Tuesday, July 30, 2019

No Jokes in The Harold


I’m listening to a new book. Yes, that reads as odd and uncomfortable as it was to write. I listen to books these days, I guess. I commute daily for work and always want to learn so I listen to podcasts and most recently discovered Audible and listening to books. I’m currently listening to Culture Code by Daniel Coyle. The entire book is about cultures of successful companies or groups of people. I was fascinated to learn about an improv group called the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) which has produced many well-known and successful actors and comedians. A structure used to train and teach within the context of comedy improv groups was developed by Del Close and given the fancy name of The Harold. It's a fascinating group and teaching ideology and/or structure.

There are 11 rules Close developed to guide The Harold:

1.      You are all supporting actors
2.      Always check your impulses
3.      Never enter a scene unless you are needed
4.      Save your fellow actor, don’t worry about the piece
5.      Your prime responsibility is to support
6.      Work at the top of your brains at all times
7.      Never underestimate or condescend the audience
8.      No jokes
9.      Trust; trust your fellow actors to support you, trust them to come through if you lay something heavy on them, trust yourself
10.  Avoid judging what is going down, except in terms of if it needs help, what can best follow or how you can support it imaginatively if your support is needed
11.  Listen

All the rules are designed and intended to tamp down selfish instincts and to serve your fellow actor. I find it challenging to think of applying this set of rules to any group I’m involved in, whether at work or a group of friends or even a faith-based group AKA church. How is it we can apply these simple rules to our own environments to improve the culture which drives success?