It’s very easy to be interesting. You only have to speak the truth. It’s very easy to be boring. You only have to try to seem interesting.
We censor ourselves all the time when we speak. The censor tries to drag us into saying the everyday cliches. There’s nothing wrong with the everyday. It’s safe and cozy. But the everyday is also what everyone knows. Saying what has been said a thousand times won’t make you interesting.
Alternatively, dial the censor down by paying attention to it, then try to speak whatever comes to your mind. You can start with speaking about yourself, about how fucked up you are, all the strange stuff that attracts your attention, or the messed up trains of thought that you’ve engaged in. You’ll realize how interesting your life is. You can then talk about wider issues, politics, philosophy, economics. But now, saying what you really think, rather than recycling ideas that everyone knows. With enough grace and practice, you’ll be able to adjust your truth-dial to the social situation, pushing always to the edge of social convention but not scaring people away, and be outrageous and endearing at the same time. That’s when the fun happens.
It’ll be scary, and you’ll make a ton of mistakes on the way. The good thing about truthful mistakes, however, is that they teach you things about yourself. In its uncomfortableness, it makes you a better human being.
Now, try this exercise. Say whatever comes to your mind.
Here’s what I’ve got: Big penises. Bananas. Monkeys eating those bananas. A big pine tree with blue elephants that has marlins on it eating bananas. A blue sky where blue elephants with clouds shaped like marlins eating penises draws out great cities that rise up and crush down like waves.
Not the most sophisticated train of thought. But more interesting than anything I’d come up with intentionally. Look, I’m not saying that you should be talking about marlins eating penises in a party. But I’m saying that this exercise is a proof that there’s much more in you than you’ve ever known.
You’ll look stupid if you try to speak the truth, since the truth can sometimes be ugly. But well, the truth is much more interesting, so you want an adventure, speaking the truth is the way.
N.B. Much of the idea of the post comes from Keith Johnstone’s Improv, a brilliant guide on how to be as interesting as possible in the guise of an improve comedy handbook.
“We have a name for people who try to sculpt a social image. Bores. Their main problem is the lack of truth. Their lack of courage.”
The truth is endless. Inexhaustible. Always surprising. Like Dickinson’s lightning.