Commitment > Skill (A Beastie Boys Affair)
by on February 22, 2018 in Improv Advice
I recently taught my Beyond Hamilton improv workshop to a bunch of eager and talented actors at the San Diego Improv Festival.  We spent a lot of time rhyming and playing.  At some point someone asked me, “What do you do if someone used the rhyme you were going to use?” The answer to that was simple….I gave them one of my favorite all time lyrics in hip-hop:

Well… Everybody rappin’ like it’s a commercial
Actin’ like life is a big commercial…

Pass The Mic – The Beastie Boys

I remember the FIRST time I heard that.  I was in San Antonio, Tx cruising down Austin Highway heading east towards my friends house.  The lyric came and went and we both went , “Wait.  Did they just rhyme ‘commercial’ with ‘commercial’?”.  I hit rewind on the tape deck of my primer red  ’86 Ford Mustang LX, cued it back a few seconds and listened again.  Yep, he sure did!  We laughed hysterically at it and crowned it “The Worst Beastie Boys Lyric Ever”.  Now, however, I see the cleverness it entails.

In musical improv (especially musical hip-hop), it’s always a good idea to have your “hip-hop Rolodex” of rhymes locked and loaded so you can have any number of options to choose from to rhyme with.  But inevitably someone in the crew will use your rhyme and you’ll have to do something a little unorthodox –


There is nothing wrong with reusing the same word to rhyme with.  What does matter is whether or not you sell the idea that you’re doing it as a choice instead of an accident.  Committing to doing so in earnest will allow you to come off as a rhyme tactician versus a rhyme tragedician. That’s what Mike D did with that masterpiece of lyricism above.

Sometimes commitment will carry you much further than executing technique perfectly.  Get in the habit of selling your performances to audience even when you think you’re doing the lamest work ever.  You’ll feel good about doing something lame and the audience will get the show they were seeking!

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