You cannot win improv. […] And like improv, you cannot win your life.

Stephen Colbert 2011 Commencement Speech at Northwestern University

Adding this to my long list of Quotes I Love,

“You cannot win improv. […] And like improv, you cannot win your life.”

I love this bit at the end that contains the above excerpt,

[typed by me] “There are very few rules in improv but one of things I was taught earlier on is that you are not the most important person in the scene. Everybody else is. And if everybody else is more important than you are, you will naturally pay attention to them and serve them. But the good news is you are in the scene too. So hopefully to them, you are the most important person and they will serve you. No one is leading. You’re all following the follower. Serving the servant. You cannot win improv. And life is an improvisation. You’ve no idea what’s going to happen next. And you are mostly just yanking ideas out of your ass as you go along. And like improv, you cannot win your life.”

[more from official transcript] “EVEN WHEN IT MIGHT LOOK LIKE YOU’RE WINNING. I HAVE MY OWN SHOW, WHICH I LOVE DOING. FULL OF VERY TALENTED PEOPLE READY TO SERVE ME. AND IT’S GREAT. BUT AT MY BEST, I AM SERVING THEM JUST AS HARD, AND TOGETHER, WE SERVE A COMMON IDEA, IN THIS CASE THE CHARACTER STEPHEN COLBERT, WHO IT’S CLEAR, ISN’T INTERESTED IN SERVING ANYONE. AND A SURE SIGN THAT THINGS ARE GOING WELL IS WHEN NO ONE CAN REALLY REMEMBER WHOSE IDEA WAS WHOSE, OR WHO SHOULD GET CREDIT FOR WHAT JOKES.

THOUGH NATURALLY I CREDIT FOR ALL OF THEM.

BUT IF WE SHOULD SERVE OTHERS, AND TOGETHER SERVE SOME COMMON GOAL OR IDEA – FOR ANY ONE YOU, WHAT IS THAT IDEA? AND WHO ARE THOSE PEOPLE?

IN MY EXPERIENCE, YOU WILL TRULY SERVE ONLY WHAT YOU LOVE, BECAUSE, AS THE PROPHET SAYS, SERVICE IS LOVE MADE VISIBLE.

IF YOU LOVE FRIENDS, YOU WILL SERVE YOUR FRIENDS.

IF YOU LOVE COMMUNITY, YOU WILL SERVE YOUR COMMUNITY.

IF YOU LOVE MONEY, YOU WILL SERVE YOUR MONEY.

AND IF YOU LOVE ONLY YOURSELF, YOU WILL SERVE ONLY YOURSELF. AND YOU WILL HAVE ONLY YOURSELF.

SO NO MORE WINNING. INSTEAD, TRY TO LOVE OTHERS AND SERVE OTHERS, AND HOPEFULLY FIND THOSE WHO LOVE AND SERVE YOU IN RETURN.”

2 Responses to You cannot win improv. […] And like improv, you cannot win your life.

  1. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, …. Colbert

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