Adventures are unique and intimate events, designed to offer our TEDx community unparalleled, behind-the scenes access to the people and places that make the local area so dynamic.

April 17, 2015

Improvising with Strangers
Category: Adventures


Can there be any greater adventure than choosing to be a fool in front of complete strangers? To deliberately surrender any sense of decorum to impulse, and “put it all out there” (whatever “it” is for you!) for everyone to see? That was the challenge Gary Hirsch, alumni speaker, author, and improv guru laid upon thirty strangers at our recent TEDx Adventure on April 4. “How many of you are here because you’re really excited about improv?” he asked by way of introduction. “And how many of you don’t know a thing about it but think it might be good for you?” The room was equally divided at that point, but three hours later, both of those elements would be true.

Sitting in a half-circle, virtually no one acquainted with anyone else in the room, the adventure began with having everyone play “The Evolution Game.” By winning rock-paper-scissors contests, participants could advance up the food chain over others in their species designated by their actions (larvae blooping > fish swimming > birds flapping and squawking > monkeys grunting and scratching their armpits > humans greeting one another). It was as messy as evolution itself, but bonding and fun. How ironic… being willing to act strangely made strangers feel less strange.

improv2-blogWhy improv? Getting people out of their routines will inevitably change the information they have access to—revealing ideas and thoughts they didn’t even know they had. Improv short circuits the filters unconsciously put in place requiring one to come up with “the right” answer, and reveals the underlying (often constrictive) attitudes. It also helps people break out of their habits, generating energy, surprise, and joy.

Abounding with practical applications to the workplace, social relationships, and one’s own self-esteem, Gary proposed the use of improv to discover the flow in your life, even when it might require a little sluicing and redirection. This willingness to let go can be a game-changer. To quote improv master Keith Johnstone, “There are those who prefer to say yes, and those who prefer to say no. Those that say yes are rewarded by the adventures they have. Those that say no are rewarded by the safety they attain. There are far more no-sayers than yes-sayers.” After this TEDx adventure, here’s hoping a few more “yes-sayers” have been added to the mix.

  • Adventures are unique and intimate events, designed to offer our TEDx community unparalleled, behind-the scenes access to the people and places that make the local area so dynamic.
  • Our next Adventure is this Saturday, April 18 from 1-3pm with Coava Coffee. Attendees will tour the roastery and experience a guided cupping. You’ll learn about the complex art of roasting and brewing coffee and share in the simplicity of enjoying a good cup. We’ll even send you home with your own bag of coffee!

Don’t forget: TEDxMtHood is on May 2 at Revolution Hall. Purchase your ticket today!

Ted Moeller

Feeling called to be part of the TEDx team—by name even!—Ted Moeller is a dual citizen of Canada and the United States. He retired from the Canadian Armed Forces (a paratrooper chaplain) to plant a church in Vancouver, Washington. Ted loves the Pacific Northwest—its coffee, microbrews, sports teams, even its weather! In addition to being a pastor he is also a professor at Concordia University. Formerly, he was a high school basketball coach, a disk jockey, and co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (in 1988, sharing it with 35,000 other peacekeepers!). He married Patricia Chylla of Bloomfield Hills, MI, a third of a century ago. They have two children, Laura and Rebecca, and a Labrador named Kona.