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Cinco de Mayo Improv Rules

By The Second City | May 5, 2014

There is no other holiday quite like Cinco de Mayo— celebrated pretty much exclusively in the United States as an opportunity to educate students on Mexican culture, celebrate history and get wasted on tequila shots while wearing comically large sombreros. What you may not have known is that the training you’ve received in your improv classes (whether or not you’re a Latino improviser) can help you navigate this holiday. Here’s how.

Don’t Ask Questions

You know, questions like, “Why do people keep referencing Mexican independence when it’s four months away?” “Didn’t this holiday have something to do with the Civil War?” “How many Coronas are too many?”

Make strong assumptions about the origins of this holiday, and they will progress your day.

Make a Strong Choice

In improv, a strong choice is usually about what kind of character you’re going to play or what the stakes of the scene are going to be. On Cinco de Mayo, the strongest choice you can make is whether to stay in or go out. And if you go out, whether you will be day drinking or not. As in the best scenes, sometimes it feels like these choices make themselves.

Si, Y 

Every meal can have a round of Tecates added to it. And every round of Tecates should be preceded by a shot of mezcal. And you can’t drink mezcal without some limes. And limes go really well with Corona. And Coronas taste great on the red line!

Establish the Who, What, Where

As in… Who are you with? What are you drinking? Where are you right now?

These are all good bits of information to hold on to while you are halfway through your third fishbowl margarita. Hopefully your improv brain is so trained to think about these questions that you will remember them no matter what kind of initiating lines (or bottles or cans or glasses) you are thrown.

Have Your Friends’ Backs

In a scene, having someone’s back means following them into whatever craziness they may have initiated. At a Cinco de Mayo celebration, it could mean anything from publicly dancing to reggaeton songs to holding somebody’s hair back for them. Support your friends into a cab home and they will support aspirin and water into your body the next day.

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