One Word Suggestion: Stereotypes

I might get some pushback for this, but I’m gonna say that the reason stereotypes exist, and persist, is because they are based in some amount of truth.

Welcome to One Word Suggestion

Hosted by: Eran Thomson
This week's word is: Stereotypes

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This podcast is intentionally short and sweet, so don't expect too much from the notes. We will, of course, share links and details of things discussed in individual episodes as appropriate - and that's about it.

The main thing to know is every episode of this show starts with a one word suggestion, and there's no reason it shouldn't come from you.

As long as its not "dildo."

So give us your best, and in the meantime, thanks for listening.

Hey welcome to One Word Suggestion,

I’m your host Eran Thomson and this week’s word is… Stereotypes.
Welcome to the podcast, for those of you who don’t already know, every week I take one word, suggested by you, and use it as a leaping off point to explore the benefits of improv as they relate to life on and off the stage.
This week’s word, “stereotypes” was suggested by Maria.
OK, I might get some pushback for this, but I’m gonna say that the reason stereotypes exist, and persist, is because they are based in some amount of truth.
But that doesn't make it necessarily OK to reinforce them, whether they apply to you or not.
As far as improv goes, performers often find themselves relying on stereotypes and assumptions surrounding gender that are commonly portrayed in the media.
This happens because they are being spontaneous and reaching for an easy choice that is quickly gettable by an audience. This is understandable, and in most instances, even forgivable, but it’s worth paying attention to.
In a school as diverse as LMA you’re bound to train or play with someone who comes from a different cultural background than you. And that’s part of what makes it so great. 
Every class we run is filled with people from all walks of life, who most likely would never have crossed paths if it weren't for improv. And despite a wide range of socioeconomic and cultural diversity, we all find that we have more in common than we do different. And we learn to see beyond the stereotypes we may have inadvertently held.
On Mike’s secret improv blog he writes: Improv is about saying yes and accepting offers. It’s a place where all people are accepted and tolerance is practised. But sometimes racial, cultural and gender stereotypes and cheap jokes at the expense of those with less privilege get rewarded. 
It can be very hard for people affected by this to confront those who are making the jokes without being told they are being ‘over-sensitive’ or ‘it’s just a joke man’. 
But for many people, those ‘jokes’ aren’t funny and they’re the same thing they’ve heard time and time again and they may go to the very heart of their identity. 
Why would such a person stick around to perform with people who perpetuate the shittier aspects of an oppressive society? 
Why would an audience want to stay and watch stories that play out the oppression they see and experience every day when they could be watching something that transcends it?
These are good questions - and they apply as much in real life as they do on stage. So my advice is don’t put people into boxes. And avoid making general assumptions about an individual with little or no personal knowledge about them. 
Look beyond race, gender, age, marital status and family responsibilities. 
Focusing on differences like these is often the root cause of stereotyping and may result in tension on stage - and in the workplace, where it can be particularly harmful, and hamper your ability to work well with others. Not to mention put you in a position to miss everything that makes someone the beautiful person they are.  
Remember, a powerful CEO can be (or be played on stage by) anyone – a straight white man, a gay Latina woman, a young African American transgender woman, the possibilities are endless. So I encourage you to make more unconventional choices. 
And if you find yourself reaching for a stereotype, try to at least give it a fresh take. 
For example, what’s more memorable? A cop with a dozen doughnuts or a cop with a dozen kale smoothies?
Just do me a favour, if you’re a man playing a woman, try not to be a Mom. And if you’re a woman playing a woman, try not to be a mom! And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to see more improv shows.
So that’s my take on stereotypes. Thanks for the great suggestion, Maria.
If you want to suggest a word for next week, or add your perspective, drop me a note in the comments or better yet, write a review and include your word there.
I’m making one of these every week, for a year, so definitely subscribe, like, share, and all that jazz. 
And in the meantime, if you’re interested in improv for personal growth, professional achievement, or just for fun, my suggestion is to get yourself into an improv class or book a corporate training workshop for your team. 
You can learn all about LMA’s programs at
Thanks for listening.
The ideas, observations, and perspectives shared here are mine alone. 
I’d love to hear yours in the comments, or better yet in a review.

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