On Friday, July 22nd, I officiated Lauren and Joshua’s wedding ceremony at Lauren’s parents’ home in Coppell, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:
Unlike Lauren and Joshua, my understanding of improv is that of a layperson. I am sure, therefore, that I am oversimplifying, when I say that the essence of improv is “yes, and”. The reason, “yes, and” is vital to improv comedy is that improv comedy, like jazz or any other improvisational art form, is iterative. So, your answer need not be “no” for the iterative process to break down; it could be just “yes, period”.
I do believe, though, that this is not only a great prescription for successful comedy, but also a great prescription for life. Of course, success in life does demand some degree of planning and follow through on those plans, but the best lived life is iterative. Have you met someone who just followed their carefully conceived life plan without deviating from it? If you did, they probably didn’t make a huge impression, because, BORING. Likely they are not lifelong learners, at least not yet.
Living your iteratively requires an important prerequisite. You must be willing to ask questions. This is very Jewish. As Lauren says, “To me, living a meaningful Jewish life… [is] about interrogating oneself on what living a Jewish life means to you and the lifelong journey to figure that out… Judaism is centered on the idea of questioning, whether it be a rabbi, the Torah, your family, yourself, or even God… Being Jewish is about questioning things, always, even when you think you already have all the answers, or it feels difficult to ask.”
Lauren and Joshua’s love story is replete with asking questions, and answering with, “yes, and.” Their relationship began with Joshua saying, “Hey, nice bracelets! Do you like electronic music too?” Yes, and. Though, Lauren argues that it started before that when someone said to her, “Hey, do you want to see this random improv comedy show, in a random guy’s backyard, in a random house in Denton, Texas?” Yes, and. Eventually, she says, they moved on to other questions: “Do you want to move to Chicago with me? Do you want to write a sketch show together? Do you want to get an apartment together? Do you want try and start a comedy club with me?” Yes, and, yes, and.
Living your life iteratively means that you can reach heights and distances that cannot be reached without improvisation, and the benefits can influence not only your life, but the lives of many others. Joshua gets this. He says, “I want to marry Lauren because she is everything I could ask for in a life partner. Together, I truly believe we are an unstoppable team. We picked up our lives in Texas and started over in a new place. If we can build something from nothing this effectively, imagine what we can do as life partners! I believe the family we are starting together will not only continue to bring us joy, but also has the potential to create good in the world as a whole.”