Shannon Stott: Professional Improviser shares an internal moment of pivot on the Changed Podcast
Shannon Stott happens to be one of the most delightful people you will ever meet. She and her husband Gus have been making the world a better place on Shannon’s YouTube channel by delightfully ‘destroying’ improv together.
We talk so much about improv on the Changed Podcast, I felt like I was long overdue to invite a full-time improviser onto the show! AND who better than Shannon Stott, of Shannon Stott improv. Her passion for the art form is enough to make anyone want to jump up and join in on a game of zip-zap-zop!
More importantly than enthusiasm though, Shannon has used the art form of ‘making it up on stage’ to explore our world in particularly interesting ways, including the show she describes in this episode, Twins, in which she and creative partner Quinn Buckner, dance along the lines of what’s comfortable and culturally acceptable in order to better understand the differences and universalities in human experience.
Takeaways from this episode
This episode is full of keepers. I loved the simple honesty of Shannon’s declaration, “It is hard to create something without a blueprint.” But there were a couple of key takeaways that Shannon points out that come from improv but speak directly to the heart of how we might cope with the continually changing landscape in which we live.
- It is possible to develop deep empathy by ‘being’ someone else. This isn’t the same as pretending to be someone else. It is instead about for a moment allowing yourself to feel what it feels like to walk, talk, sit, breathe, THINK the way another human does.
- Checking your understanding with people in service of deepening what you know instead of proving it, builds trust. If you have an inkling that something you’ve said or done may have impacted someone, you may want to check with them. If you suspect that you are jumping to conclusions about why someone is behaving or talking in a certain way, you might check your assumptions with that person, rather than choose actions based on what you’re actually making up and don’t really know.
- Relationship is the foundation for asking good questions in improv… and in real life. On stage, asking questions that go nowhere “What are we doing? Who are you?” aren’t great for furthering the scene. The same is true in collaboration, goal setting and so much more. Instead, use your relationships (including the one you have with yourself) to spark meaning-filled questions.
- If you’re lost, confused, or curious about something, someone in the audience is too! On stage, performers are trained to think about the audience experience. This is also an incredible frame for making an impact in the world. In fact, it was my assumption that if I was curious, about the concept of change, and how people identify pivotal moments in their lives, other people must be curious too. AND that’s why I created this podcast!
Shannon’s story also shows us that listening to divine inspiration, or whatever you want to call it, maybe hard to interpret at times, but can lead you to tremendous creativity, career, partnership, and LIFE in general!
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