Not a lot of unity in Mudville today ― at least not for the half-plus percentage of Americans who voted for the second-place candidate in this year’s Presidential election. We’ve seen how comedy can be used as a weapon. It can be used to create an “other” or a “less than.” Comedy can be used to create distances between people.
But honestly, that’s not what good comedy does.
Comedy provides groups of people with a collective and resounding sense of shared community. We laugh together because we are connected by a truth much greater than ourselves. We’ve all heard the expression, “It’s funny because it’s true.”
So what’s true now?
Half the country feels one way that seems radically different than the way the other half feels. Two very different world views, and comedy ― really funny and true comedy ― can find the thing that connect those two different views. Comedy can find ways to bring those two worlds into a single, shared space. Because we are all human beings, and there are things we share… no matter how vast the chasm may seem.
But comedy isn’t enough. Once the door is ajar, we must become improvisers.
We need to listen.
We need to remain judgement-free (of ourselves and of others).
We need to eradicate fear.
Improvisation teaches us that the very things that make us so different, when united, create something wonderful right away (to borrow a phrase).
So there will be a time to laugh and there will be a time to act. Laughter creates a moment when we see things as one, and improv allows us to take that moment and turn it into a thing to be used, to be wrestled with, to be collectively created. Because we can’t do it alone.
Despite our many differences, we are an ensemble. And in a true ensemble, all of us are always better than one of us.
“Despite our many differences, we are an ensemble. And in a true ensemble, all of us are always better than one of us.”
Kelly Leonard (@KLsecondcity) is the President and CEO of Kelly Leonard Productions and Creative Adviser for The Second City. This post originally appeared at secondcity.com.