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Hosted by: Eran Thomson
This week's word is: Parasite
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This podcast is intentionally short and sweet, so don't expect too much from the notes. We will, of course, share links and details of things discussed in individual episodes as appropriate - and that's about it.
The main thing to know is every episode of this show starts with a one word suggestion, and there's no reason it shouldn't come from you.
As long as its not "dildo."
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Unless you've been hiding in a dark basement for the past couple weeks, you've probably heard about Bong Joon-Ho's amazing award-winning film, Parasite.
It got lots of pre Oscar buzz winning the Palm D'or at Cannes and then went on to break all sorts of records, including winning 4 Oscars. Most impressively, for Best Picture, the first non-English-language film in Oscar history to do so.
Also, before I get too far, I should warn you, if you haven't seen the film, and you should, there are spoilers ahead.
In very simplistic terms, the film is about a poor family, the Kims, who infiltrate a rich family's household, the Parks.
The story kicks off when the Kim family's son, Ki-woo gets given a gift by his friend - the chance to work as an English tutor for the Park's daughter.
Ki-woo accepts the offer and then "Yes, ands" the situation, eventually bringing his sister, father and mother in to work as staff in the wealthy Park family household.
And for a while, things seem to be going pretty well, until they aren't and the film takes a turn towards the terrific, in the deepest sense of the word.
So what does this have to do with improv?
Well, families are nothing if not ensembles (see episode 7), and the Kims must continually improvise to keep their scam alive. Especially when they encounter a strange man living in the Park's secret basement bomb shelter that they never knew existed.
But what I want to focus on is the moment that started it all - the offer made to Ki-woo to tutor the Park's daughter.
The film's entire premise hinges on that single gift. And in improv, there's an expression which is "give gifts."
Paul Vaillancourt, an improv teacher, and co-founder of iO West, writes about gifts in his book, The Triangle of The Scene.
Vaillancourt explains that the best way to set your partners up for success is to make statements that not only include specifics, but also include information that gives them clues about character, attitude, setting, and/or the situation.
On stage, it's the difference between...
Mom, I can't believe you won't let me eat ice cream in the car. You're the meanest person in the world!
The first offer is an empty box. The second gives the other person the who, what, and where of the situation as well as the relationship and attitude of the people in the scene. Lots of gifts.
In real life, it's often as simple as being more specific.
It might be the difference between...
Do you have that report ready?
Do you have today's TPS report ready? I need you to present it at the 5:30 pm board meeting.
The added specificity is a type of gift you can give your colleagues. The more info they have, the less likely something will get lost in translation, and more likely you'll both come out looking good.
So if you want to succeed on the improv stage, give big, playable gifts to your partner to create improv scenes with rich characters.
And if you want to succeed at work, be specific, share whole information, and be a giver.
Not a taker, or, a parasite.
The ideas, observations, and perspectives shared here are mine alone.
I’d love to hear yours in the comments, or better yet in a review.