All too often I find that some of the debaters who haven’t started on the journey towards wisdom (which can be taught by debate, actually) quiver in fear behind their debate boxes, cracking binders, and piles of paper occasionally peering out at…them: the freaks. the weirdoes. the interp competitors.
Over dramatized? Maybe, haha. In many cases, true? Unfortunately.
This post is not the usual content published on the Ethos Debate blog, but I think that something should be said relating to the benefits experienced from competing in at least one for of interpretative IEs. Admittedly, Dave Barry will probably not improve your critical thinking skills and Sherlock Holmes will probably not increase your knowledge of foreign policy. However, participating in something other than a mentally rigorous activity that pressures you and frustrates you will definitely make you a more balanced debater/communicator and will undoubtedly improve your competitive success.
For those of you who know Gregory Escobar and remember his partner Mcnair Nichols, it would be a lie to say that they were not excellent debaters. Incidentally, they both performed at least one interp earlier on in their debate career, were extremely humorous, and benefited greatly from that experience.
Additionally, Peter was (and might still be) convinced that interps were/are the plague but thanks to Isaiah and Mrs. Pickering (Region IX Rep.), Peter performed a Dave Barry at one qualifier, landed in finals, and eventually found himself in semis at Regionals. I am sure he would attest to the beneficial balancing of his speaking that he experienced after trying something new and expressing himself in a different communication arena. Even if he would not, though, the change in his speaking style is obvious.
I want to take this opportunity to brag on my former debate partner and duo partner for a moment. Mitch Bozarth always has been a talented debater and critical thinker. But the last two years, as he and I have completely enjoyed the past two years of duo, his speaking has dramatically improved. Having experienced a somewhat average speaker award rating in previous debate seasons, during the past two years Mitch has come from 16th, to 14th, to 5th, all the way to cleaning up speaks at the largest/final regional qualifier this year (2011) and then continued to do the exact same thing again at the very next tournament, which also happened to be Regionals. Two consecutive 1st place TP speaker awards at two of the hardest in-region tournaments and I am sure he would tell you it is due, in no small part, to his experiences in the world of interpretive speeches.
The list is not limited; I could continue naming numerous debaters (Anna Snyder, Josh Ridenour, Drew Chambers, et cetera) who have participated in interpretive speeches and been very successful debaters on the Regional and National level.
Admittedly, there are numerous debaters who never compete in any form of interp yet still experience success in debate competition. Classic example: Isaiah McPeak. Also, there are some debaters who are naturally entertaining and engaging. Classic example: Patrick Shipsey. So, why bother writing this post? I believe (as do others) the best speaker is a balanced speaker. If you are not achieving the speaker rankings you want or you feel willing to do whatever you can to improve, prepare a humorous or duo interpretation for the 2011-2012 speech and debate season. It certainly cannot hurt and it could be just the thing you need to become a more engaging, likable debater.