How Blue Are You?
I was able to take my wife and another couple to the Blue Man Group as it traveled through Oklahoma this week. I expected to see 3 slimy blue people playing strange instruments, but beyond that I wasn't sure what I would experience. To call the show amazing is an understatement. We laughed, we danced, we watched in awe as these "blue men" moved our hearts and minds all over the gamut of human experience. What did I learn, and what can you learn from these guys?
- Blue Is A State of Mind - Not one word was spoken by these characters all night. But in spite of their numb facial expressions and silence, they were able to communicate perfectly with an audience that ranged from young children through senior adults. The primary message of the evening was simple. Although they were "different," they were sharing the same experience of "discovering life" that we all do.
Their reactions varied between what we might imagine an alien race having to our experiences, to those of a young child learning something new, or a person from a different country experiencing our social mores and cultural experiences for the first time. Curiosity & surprise, or confusion and fear at times. But at the center of those wild experiences, we saw that passion to embrace the moment. Drink in each ounce of experience, and absorb every ounce of life from that instant and event. That's what Blue Men Group do. It's what we should do.
- Creative Simplicity Is Stunning - The Blue Men Group used a variety of props, but nearly everything they used across the evening was simple in nature. Cap'n Crunch Cereal and Twinkies. PVC pipe and drumsticks. Weather balloons and body parts. All beautifully relatable in their simplicity. But what they chose to do with these items was beyond creative. It was genius.
Eaten Twinkies seemed to come gushing forth from the chest of the Blue Men, only to be gathered up and placed in a Chinese take-out box. Weather balloons were first used as drums, then as lights, and finally as a "crowd animator" as ten balloons were released into a theater full of dancing and laughing people. PVC became a instrument that morphed between 2 separate pieces into one, from a simple drum piece into a trombone of sorts. Amazing. Creative. Simple. Why do we have to make things so hard sometimes? Worse yet, why do we settle for bland or boring from ourselves, or from others. We deserve better. We ought to be better.
- Performance is Nice, But Participation is Best - Blue Men are incredible percussionists and performers, and I was in awe as I watched them perform percussion on various instruments and objects. It was hilarious to watch them interact with each other with dazed, dry facial expressions while the entire house was roaring in laughter. But the high points of the night were when they involved the audience, either as a group, or pulling a representative from among us onto the stage. At one point it seemed we got a closer look (via Blue Man camera) of a front row attender... then the camera, as we watched on the big screen, traveled right up to his face, down his throat and into his digestive tract!Another audience member joined them onstage then quickly backstage where he was clothed in a one piece outfit, painted blue, hung upside down and slapped against a blank canvas, creating "Blue Man Man Art"! Another young lady found herself onstage eating Twinkies with the group, when suddenly a stream of seemingly digested Twinkie began spewing unexpectedly from her own chest covering they had placed on her earlier! Each time they encountered a different audience member, we knew something was up, and we were excited to see what!
So how do we make that happen in our own life engagements? How do we make that the norm when it comes to engaging our community, leading our staff or communicating with our customers? How do we draw them into the experiences we lead and create, and engage them with fun, with wonder and with creativity?
Blue Men... I salute you. It's a night I won't soon forget. It did more than entertain me, it changed me. I'm gonna work to be more "Blue. Maybe you've seen Blue Men Group perform. If so, what lessons were you able to learn?