The show “Whose Line is it Anyway?” has a soft spot in my heart because of the influence that it had on my development.
As any typical INTJ, I wasn’t in a very good social standing in all of my social environments (home, school, church) during my adolescence. I was so different from everyone else and just didn’t have the social skills to have a good social standing. Because of this I had to deal with a lot of rejection.
As an adolescent, I wanted to be noticed for something outside of my parents and 4 other siblings. My thought process was that I would be able to do this by showing that I am smarter than everyone else. So my paradigm from 15-16 years of age was “I want to make them think”. What that really meant was “I want to say things that are so awesome that people have to shut up and acknowledge that my brain is awesome”. Selfish and douche-bag like, I know.
In the summer of 2007, when I was going from 11th to 12th grade of high school, I was watching TV and found a re-run of the show. My curiosity was sparked and payed more attention to what whose line actually was. During that day two things happened:
- As I saw what the improvers did and the response that it garnered from the audience and myself and I got the desire to adopt improv comedy as a part of how I deal with social situations.
- My social paradigm changed. It changed from “I want to make people think” to “I want to make people laugh”. Really what I wanted was to use what I did to control people’s reactions. Yet I knew that this was an upgrade to my previous paradigm.
What I did afterwards was typical INTJ: I dedicated hundreds of hours to study what they did, how they do it, and try to find how I can translate those principles in social situations. I especially focused on what Colin Mochrie did, because I saw that he always found ways to make the other cast members laugh in a very witty and sometimes out of the box ways. I identified with him more when I saw in an interview that he stated that he was shy as a kid.
This journey has taken more than a decade. Along the way, I have learned what works and what doesn’t. I learned to work with the way I speak to make sure people know that I am being sarcastic and funny. I learned how to time what I say within the context of a conversation to make a joke or say a funny comment. I learned to take calculated risks to get a laugh. I learned that the knowledge that you have can and should be used in the form of a joke. I learned that comedy is a marathon, not a sprint. I learned when to take the attention for yourself and when to be a second fiddle to someone else. I learned how powerful laughter is to encourage a connection to be made with someone else. I learned how useful making jokes is to break the ice, but it is not the end game of social situations.
The journey to incorporate comedy and improv into my daily life has been one of training my brain to tackle social situations as an improv comedy show: taking whatever the other person gives you and run with it to make anything funny. Because I as an INTJ suck at improvisation, being able to train my brain for improv at a formative age really helped improve my social skills.
Now I watch recent Whose Line clips from YouTube and I am nostalgic and thankful for what being exposed to improv comedy did for my development.