I'm been thinking a lot about tension recently. Our improv classes have been great recently, but I've noticed improvisers are filling the silent moments with words. Lots of words.

It's killing the tension. And people love tension. I was thinking about tension last night while watching the San Francisco 49ers cling to their small lead over the New York Giants. We humans love us some tension. We've designed games full of the stuff! Football is a 20+ billion dollar business built on tension.

Sadly, the 49ers lost, but I was hooked until the last second. I was hoping they'd defend the run, the pass, and keep Eli Manning and his receivers out of the endzone. And, when Eli and the Giants scored, I was still tense. I was tense hoping Kaepernick and the 49ers could march the length of the field and win. When the time expired, I was tense thinking about what this meant for the rest of the reason.

Did the 49ers loss change my life? No. Not really. Everything has been operating normally today. But last night, it felt important, because everyone treated it like it WAS important.

There's always SOMETHING to be tense about it, if we allow it onstage. We don't have to honor tension, but we sure are missing out on a fantastic tool if we ignore it. When we treat the scene as important, and respect the tension, the audience will buy in. At the very worst they will laugh watching a bunch of actors treat something ridiculous as super serious.

I don't mind a scene full of conversation, but punctuate it with some silence, and give the audience time to absorb what's happening. What do the words mean. Give them a few seconds to imagine what COULD happen, instead of needing to constantly adsorb what just did happen. One of the best things the NFL has is the 24 seconds between plays. That's 24 seconds the fans get to sit there and imagine that next incredible play that's going to propel there team to victory. I know I did it last night.

"Wouldn't it be great if Carlos Hayne could smash through the defense and run for 80 yards and a touchdown?"

And, then for the next 24 seconds I waited, and hoped.

Tension is that beautiful moment in which the audience is full of hope, and wonder. Let's take a cue from the NFL and add a bit more tension.