If you’re making everyone happy in comedy, you’re not doing comedy right.
If you do anything at all on the Internet, you are going to get haters. As a matter of fact, 50% of Internet users have engaged in hating, trolling, downvoting, bashing and ironic hashtagging. That’s science, guys.1
There are plenty of ways to react to stranger venom on the web. When @WeFoughtAbout went viral and we got haters of our own, we tried fuming, weeping, revenge-bashing and screaming into a pillow while clutching a half-drunk bottle of $4 red wine (we actually tried this one twice, just in case). 2
There is only one good way, one satisfying way, one truly powerful way to address your haters. And this is the part where improv training comes in handy.
“Yes, and” your haters.
At first, it feels a little weird to agree when someone is wishing for you to “die in a fire,” or worse yet, to shut down your Twitter account. But we can promise you that it feels as exhilarating to jump on board with that as it does to match a scene partner with a strong initiation.
“Yes!” we would say about ourselves. “They do suck! They should burn alive! Idiots will do anything to get famous!” And our new friends would give us digital high fives and rant even harder. Every mean jab becomes a free point! Your opinons are not your own, @RickStick988!3 We set you up– and you’re spiking the ball for us!
Pretty soon, we were our own biggest naysayers. We even tried to coax some people into swinging at us who wouldn’t do it and got angry at them for telling us to calm down. How dare they defend us from ourselves? We’re the most heinous, fake and over-sharing couple who ever lived!4 We would scroll past our supporters without a second glance. The haters were where the party was at.
We could push people to places that made us laugh if we boosted them up instead of yelling back. In fact, we discovered that agreeing with people usually stopped the shouting right away. By agreeing, we even pushed one person into being open enough with us to tell us about some of the hardships he was going through.5 It’s the difference between watching a shouting match and an interesting relationship scene.
What we are trying to get at with this is that if you don’t like what you are being handed, it’s way easier to change the rules of the game than to just hold that dislike in your palms.
If you can “Yes, and,” you always, always win.
- This claim has not been scientifically verified.
- The only other one we didn’t try was hunting down our haters one by one and bringing them to vigilante justice. And that’s only because we were afraid of infringing on The Count of Monte Cristo’s copyright.
- @RickStick988 isn’t real. We made that handle up to protect @TheGxlaxy’s identity.
- According to over twenty five people! Or at very least, one guy with twenty five accounts!
- Without betraying his privacy, we will say that his cotton candy machine was broken.
Alan Linic is an alum of The Second City Training Center’s House Ensembles and a Conservatory graduate. Claire Meyer is currently a member of Twisty, an official Second City Training Center House Ensemble, which performs Saturday nights at 9:00 p.m. in the De Maat Theatre. You can follow their fights on Twitter @WeFoughtAbout.