First I want to bring you a Sunday Funny, my daughter Lucy’s new video: Signs You Were Born An Old Person. It stars my two other children, Sophie and Freddy, and is v funny. Lucy is pursuing comedy as her career, perhaps in development, maybe writing. Time will tell.
Last night, we were at the Upright Citizens’ Brigade watching her debut improv show with her troop. We laughed and laughed as these young talents searched their brains for material from their lives using the prompt word from the audience: Dreamcatcher. It is fun and uplifting to watch them share and embellish their childhood stories and impromptu sketch ideas.
Afterward, our family went to Canter’s – a 1930’s Jewish deli. Love Canter’s! Feels like we’re back on Second Avenue in lower Manhattan – except it’s too spacious for that. But that’s a different story. Anyway, we’re all digging in to our mountainous brisket sandwiches and stuffed cabbage meals, when Lucy says what she wished she’d done onstage, ideas that were coming to her now. The Canter’s effect?
She calls that kind of pop-up idea a Way-Homer. You think of them on the way home. The French language has a phrase for it that I’ve always loved, l’esprit de l’escalier. The spirit of the staircase. On your way back downstairs, it all comes to you. What you should have said, that word you were searching for, the jokes you wish you’d done onstage.
Your right brain continues to work on a problem even after you’ve moved on. Your left brain is busy doing other things – eating, driving, walking downstairs – and voila the solution you were looking for arrives.
You can tap in to the spirit of the staircase and get those ideas before it’s too late. When something you’re working on feels stale or stilted, give it over to your right brain to work on, while you do something else. Go for a walk, make a soup, walk the stairs, do some errands. Or if you’re in LA, go to Canter’s Deli. Yum.