A: I wanted to teach the kids that you should always be pushing yourself. You should use the skills that come with improvisation like, “Yes, and…” You should be open to: “Yes, and…” in a conversation. You should be open to: “Yes, and…” in a business relationship. You should be open to: “Yes, and…,” in a personal relationship. Teaching them listening skills; teaching them that, “Oh, well, I just want to be funny.” “Well, what do you mean you just want to be funny?”
You have to be smart to be funny. Doing a fart joke is one thing, but can you turn around and do a smart fart joke? Does that exist? Yes, because I’ve made a lot of them.
Q: These kids haven’t had any life experience. That you can’t teach. So how are they at improv?
A: We made this point to the network that when dealing with these kids you can only expect what you can expect. Improv or writing a joke is based on your life experience. So we even said that to them. “If you only have this much life experience, what can you write about?” We empowered them to be able to use their life experience. A lot of what we delve into, especially in the sketch writing episodes and the stand-up pieces, was tell us about yourself. Don’t aspire to be Kevin Hart and talk about: “Man, the first time my wife … ” You don’t have a wife. You’re 15; shush.
So we made them dig, dig as deep as one can when you’re that old, because even though you’ve only lived up to 14 you do have life experience. Tell us about your family. Tell us about how mad you get when your younger brother hogs the bathroom. Tell us those stories, and we have them mine all of the available time that they’ve lived.
George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.