Finding Connection and Comfort in Improv

 

Once you immerse yourself into the world of improv, you start to see improv principles in almost every aspect of life. One place I didn't expect to find an improv connection is in hygge. Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) is the Danish art of contentment, comfort, and connection. Hygge has been described as a quality of presence and an experience of belonging and togetherness. It is a feeling of being warm, safe, comforted, and sheltered. Hygge is about family and connection. 

Hygge is about family gatherings, sharing meals, and snuggling by the fire with a cup of hot tea or cocoa. To hygger means to put oneself in this cozy state. This seems the antithesis of comedy improv. Most people view improv as fast paced, hectic, and anything but calming. For the average person, improv is stress-inducing, not stress-relieving. At the very heart of improv, however, you find the same values; connectivity, being in the moment, and being supportive of the other.

This is what Louisa Thomsen Brits wrote in The Book of Hygge:

Embedded in an experience of hygge is a shared belief that good things will happen, and that all members of a group will be given equal voice and offered recognition. Everyone present is considered part of a greater whole. Each person wants everyone else to feel good. Understanding that we are welcome encourages us to let go and allow ourselves to be seen without the need to perform or scramble for attention. ... We no longer feel separate when we hygger.

In this paragraph we see many of the tenets of improv; teamwork, making your partner look good, and letting go of striving to be funny. Improv may not be the same as curling up with a good book by the fire or sharing an intimate meal with close friends, but it it is about forming a circle of trust and caring for one another. That's the hardest thing for beginning improvisers to learn, you aren't here to be funny. Improv isn't stand-up. Improv is about helping each other create something new and exciting. In Applied Improv this translates to more effective and cohesive teams. In comedy improv, it leads to truly brilliant new insights.

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