improv

Church and the person who tries too hard at the improv show

Recently I attended an improv comedy show here in Fort Worth, 4 Day Weekend with some of the church members of Saginaw UMC. It was a great time. The thing I have learned about going to an improv show or a stand-up comedy club is that if you are picked - don't try to be funny. Let the comedians do the funny stuff, just be yourself and let them play off your responses. 

It is really painful to watch a person try to be funnier than the people who make a living making people laugh. You can see they are trying too hard to be cool or be quick or witty. They are uncomfortable in their own skin that they feel they have to over compensate and be someone they are not. It sometimes seems like people are convinced they are not interesting just as they are and they feel they have to make stuff up to look interesting. And the irony is the more you try to look interesting the less interesting you are - see the Kardashian family.

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In all honesty, it is not just in the clubs and improv shows that people try too hard to be interesting in order to draw attention. It happens all the time in our churches. And not just in the church sign fails that float around that force many of us to slap our heads in disbelief. 

The Church is really doing a disservice to the entire cloud of witness when we try too hard to be cool or funny. 

People want authenticity. People want real. People want honesty. People can see when we are trying too hard and it makes everyone uncomfortable and want to slap our heads in disbelief.

The story of God is interesting enough. We don't have to try to be something we are not just to get attention or try to keep up with all the other messages out there. Just be yourself.

You are interesting enough.  

RadioLabs, Quantum Leap and Christanity

Recently RadioLabs had this story of two improv comics who start off with no script and literally create a fifty minute one act play as they go along. It is amazing, and I wish I could see this happen in real time.

In the interview the comics were asked what happens to them if a story does not materialize? I mean what if they are off one night and they are not able to come up with a story on the spot for a paying crowd? How do you avoid being without a story? 

The response was beautiful and I leave it to you to listen to the actual quote but the essence is this - We don't make the story we only step into a story that is already in progress. We live the story for just a bit then, when our time is up, we let the story continue without us. The characters live on after we see them, the story goes on after our time.

I could not articulate a better theology.

If you are not going to listen to the RadioLabs show, then just think about the show, "Quantum Leap". A show that I only vaguely remember. 

A show about a guy who has the ability/gift/curse/task of being beamed into some situation. He literally takes on the body of another person for a time in order to affect a situation. This really dates before me, but I hope I am right in that summary.

You and I only embody this world (aka - God's Story) for a period of time. We are not responsible for creating the story, just responsible to step into the story that is already in progress. We embody the Story for a while then, when we die, the Story lives on.

The improv comics were liberated by the idea that they are not responsible to create a story, but just to find one already in progress. Their liberation allows them to have the freedom and creativity to do the show for fifty minutes even without knowing each step.

Contrary to popular thought, Christianity teaches that you and I are not the protagonist of our lives. We are not the creator of stories. We are the stewards of the Story of God. We do not own our individual stories. Everyone's story belongs to God. 

We get the opportunity to live it for a bit of time.