Feedback Lessons From Second City Comedy Club

SNL 2nd city

Feedback is essential to growth.  It’s one of the areas I’ve concentrated for my improvement plan.  The following thoughts come from the book, “Smart Cuts” by Shane Snow.

Snow discusses some of the reasons that Second City is so successful in developing comedians.  He offers the following:

When there is a barrage of high pressure feedback it tends to make us self-conscious.  We get stuck in our own heads.  The closer the feedback moves our attention to ourselves the worse it is for us.

We have to help our players and staff distinguish between “mistakes and failures”.  Teach our players to turn off the part of the brain that says “I fail” when they get negative feedback.

Snow notes that experts tend to be able to turn off the part of their egos that took legitimate feedback personally when it came to their craft.  Whereas, novices psyched themselves out.  They needed encouragement and feared failure.

Find ways to develop more of a Silicon Valley mantra–Fail fast and fail often.

Second City Managers wanted to accomplish 3 things to accelerate performer’s growth–

  1.  Give them rapid feedback
  2. Depersonalize the feedback
  3. Lower the stakes and pressure so players take risks that force them to improve.

Turn tiny failures into depersonalized feedback and create an environment where total failure was nearly impossible.