When ComedySportz® Richmond players Amy Weiss and Kyle McLean decided to tie the knot, they asked their CSz teammate Dr. Bill Nieporte, a pastor, to officiate at their April 2018 wedding. The following is an excerpt from Bill’s sermon.
There are words and phrases in that selection of scripture that stand out in my mind. The Apostle Paul says that LOVE is patient and kind. Love is not envious, boastful, or proud. It does not dishonor others or seek its own greatness. Then he says: (Love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
When I read that and reflected on what I know of your life together, I thought about your passion for the art of improv. I think that what Paul is talking about in scripture can be illustrated by some of the things you have both learned in improvisational comedy. That’s what I’d like to talk about with you today.
I do not have a stopwatch or whistle, but I do think I can do this in about four minutes. I am going to talk about LOVE, IMPROV, and MARRIAGE! Are you ready?
Here’s my first challenge. REMEMBER IT’S IS ALL ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP.
Today you are formalizing your already established commitment to one another. You are binding yourself to each other as marriage partners. You are saying that you are aiming toward a lifetime together as one another’s scene partners.
If this is going to work out, there needs to be a daily focus on your relationship. That does not happen by accident. It happens by intentionality. It happens as you seek your WE (as a couple) and not your YOU as individuals.
Marriage, love, and improv are about your relationship. It’s about mutually looking out for one another, trusting one another, and building one another up.
So how does that happen?
There are several things that build a relationship and make for a good scene in love, improv, and marriage.
You’ve got to continue to LISTEN.
There’s no script or teleprompter in improv – nor is there one in marriage. I saw this older married couple out in a restaurant eating lunch together. They sat and ate their entire meal for about thirty minutes. In that entire time together, they never said a single word to one another. No one spoke. No one listened. They just sat there.
DON’T BECOME THAT COUPLE.
Speak. But more importantly, listen.
And if you come upon one of those days when the relationship is a bit stressed (you know about those days, don’t you?) On those days, make listening a major priority.
And don’t listen to make a point. Don’t listen to win a disagreement. Listen because the relationship, the love, the SCENE is worth the effort.
Remember, when you listen, you are showing respect and love to your partner. You are saying that they matter …that the relationship matters. And in that act of listening you might discover that GIFT that will increase your intimacy.
You are building a story together. That story is always about the relationship. That relationship grows stronger as you continue to build the skill of listening.
In improv, love, and marriage, you are building a scene together. Paul says that love is not self-centered or self-focused. It’s always a COLLABORATIVE work.
Like improv, marriage asks for teamwork. It encourages you to support one another. It asks you to trust each other’s gifts, strengths, and abilities.
Support one another. Trust in each other’s gifts and strength.
Amy, you should know that Kyle might do some things a little better than you? Learn to trust him more and more.
Kyle, forget what I just said to Amy. She does everything right. If you remember that, and your marriage will be great.
Listen, you should strive to set one another up for success. You’ve been on stage with those glory hounds, those people who always want the laughs and cheap attention. I know you’ve been there. You’ve been on stage with me.
Don’t be one of THOSE kind of players. It’s not good for improv. It’s not good for marriage, either. One the strengths both of you express on stage is the ability to make your scene partners look good. You make the person standing next to you look like a star. That’s why you are both so much fun to play with.
In her book YES PLEASE, Amy Poehler writes: “Improvisation is like the military. You leave no one behind. It’s your job to make your partner look good and if you are afraid to look stupid you should probably go home.”
Be the kind of spouse that makes your partner feel like a star.
And remember to be FULLY HUMAN – embrace your own AND one another’s faults. That can save a scene on stage, and build a relationship in your home.
You’ve got some faults. You know you do. Embrace them…own them…and they will ultimately become your strength. How do we say it on stage? In the back of our mind, we say: “You can’t break improv!”
It is also believed that you can’t break true love when you embrace your own and one another’s full humanity. Don’t expect perfection from yourself or the other.
Improv great Mike Myers one said: “What you can’t fix, you feature, and mistakes are great happy accidents. That’s the essence of improv...”
It’s also the essence of a good marriage. Celebrate the happy accidents.
Amy Poehler again writes: “Looking silly can be very powerful. People who are committing and taking risks become the king and queen of my prom. People are their most beautiful when they are laughing, crying, dancing, playing, telling the truth, and being chased in a fun way.”
She also writes: “…to be a good improviser you have to listen and say yes and support your partner and be specific and honest and find a game within the scene you can both play.”
I could also talk about YES, AND The importance of WARMING UP Using DECLARATIVE statements of intention And of course, PRACTICE CLEAN, PLAY CLEAN
But this scene is coming to an end. Yours is moving forward together. So let me close with one final suggestion for improv, love, and marriage.
Find joy in your moments together. Laugh with one another.
Laugh out loud. Be silly. Dance together. Play together. Be passionate with and for one another.
I believe laughter is the most important quality of life, love, and marriage. You share that value as a couple. Always nurture it. Never let that go. AND THAT’S TIME.