When doing scene work in an improv workshop, I've seen people get stuck in their heads trying to come up with a response that is out of the box, funny, and original. That's a lot of pressure and it takes it's toll by pulling focus away from the scene. You can almost hear the wheels turning in their head as they look off into space in search of the perfect comeback. The secret, of course, is that the answer is right there in the scene. Focus on being in the scene and say the first thing that comes to you. It's obvious.
Wait, they say, it can't be obvious. You have to mine for the gold to make a scene really funny. One must think outside the box. The "box" contains the who, what, where, and why of the scene. Stay in the box and use what you've been given.
Keith Johnston, a pioneer in improv and father of Theatresports, teaches us that the more obvious one is, the more original one appears. In Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre he writes, "I constantly point out how much the audience like someone who is direct, and how they always laugh with pleasure at a really 'obvious' idea." Improvisers searching for original ideas want to be thought clever. He writes, "People trying to be original always arrive at the same boring old answers. Ask people to give you an original idea and see the chaos it throws them into."
This also works in the field of Applied Improvisation. Whether it's a scene, or a business meeting, don't be afraid to go for the obvious. When you stop worrying about how original or funny you can be and stay focused on the obvious, you will notice the work is quicker, more productive and in scenework, actually funnier.
So next time you are stuck, remember, "Dare to be Dull." It's okay to be Captain Obvious.