I attended my second of six sessions for the Improv 101 course tonight. I’ve learned a lot about Improv already, and seen just how hard it really is. Also, I’ve made a connection; performing in the moment” with a small set of rules and constraints is a lot like mindfulness.

Yes, and.

The major rule of Improv is Yes, and”. This is a technique used to keep the scene alive. When a partner says something, no matter what it is, it is true. By you responding Yes, and” you confirm that reality and you add something to it. It’s world building.

If you say No” at any point, you break that reality. This is one of the hard things to acheive in practice. Myself and the other classmates are all having troubles with this.

Our teacher instructed us to go back to the basics and actually say Yes and” every time it was our turn in the game. We moved passed the literally saying of the term (there are ways to show acknowledgment and add to the reality without the exact term). This reinforced the concept to us, and make the games a lot better, over time.

Make your partner look good

The second rule of Improv is to always make your partner look good. If you make them look bad, it takes the reality out of the scene. I’m still thinking on what this really is and how this works.

I think it’s tied in with the saying No” from above, but I need some more practice and thinking about it.

No questions

Another rule is to not ask questions. By asking a partner a question in a game, you’re putting all the onus on them to carry the world building out. It also sort of derails the flow. This is a tough one, that the entire class is struggling with. We’re making progress though.


The in the moment” nature of Improv is revealing itself to me in unexpected ways. I’ve been reading Why Buddhism is True which relates the centuries old aspects of Buddhist meditation with modern Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It’s really fascinating and I’m re-reading parts over and over to let them all sink in. We have a behavior change design team at work and I can see some of their thinking in this book. But that might be another post altogether.

Clearing distractions, working with a small set of rules, and staying in the moment are the connections I didn’t realize Improv had with mindfulness. Looks like some of my growth areas and interests are aligned.

Personal note

I struggled a lot in one of the games we were playing today. It was difficult. I couldn’t stop asking my partners questions. I felt bad; like I was breaking the scene (I was) and making us start over again, multiple times. The other students are struggling with this as I mentioned above, but I kind of got into a rut, and couldn’t make my way out.

Our teacher asked if she could give me a personal note in the class. I replied yes please. She mentioned that I am trying to do too much. I make a statement in response, and then ask a question. She advised to just make the statement. And that I (and the class overall) don’t have to make the entire world in one sentence. Be brief. Make your partner look good, keep the scene alive.

Yes, and I am working on not doing too much in several aspects of my life. Improv is helping.


Posted on 9/17/2018

Where the Light Gathers is a blog by Chad Moore.

I write about doing less with technology, parenthood, working with creative and technical people, improv comedy, writing fiction, and woodworking.

Email me, check out my Micro Blog where I post photos and what I'm thinking, reading, or watching. Or read another post:

January 2019  1 post


November 2018  4 posts

Change  ·  Calls  ·  Using a minimal iPhone  ·  Unoverwhelmed

October 2018  1 post

My new old computer

September 2018  2 posts

Improv101  ·  A Quiet Place

August 2018  2 posts

The Other Direction  ·  Blotmentions

July 2018  3 posts

Side Hustle Sprint  ·  Beep  ·  Minimal design

June 2018  1 post

Setting up and

April 2018  2 posts

blotter  ·  Time

March 2018  1 post

Minimal Digital

December 2017  1 post

Side Hustle

November 2017  1 post

The Art of 3D Modeling at Digital Portsmouth

October 2017  1 post


September 2017  1 post

Leadership for Animators (and other creative people too)

August 2017  1 post


July 2017  4 posts

Drafts and Actions  ·  First things first  ·  100 years  ·  Lower than Erlich

March 2017  4 posts

I am not a minimalist  ·  Sips  ·  Carrd  ·  conservation

February 2017  7 posts

WTF per paragraph  ·  chimera  ·  Text Expansion is built into iOS  ·  Blot, aText & nvAlt  ·  Collusion  ·  Tsundoku  ·  A simpler way

January 2017  1 post


December 2016  2 posts

Don't compare your backstage to their onstage  ·  Ideas are cheap

September 2016  3 posts

Kid A, Owls, and perfect pens.  ·  I am uncomfortable, which is good.  ·  The perfect pen

August 2016  2 posts

Premortem  ·  Every 6 weeks

July 2016  3 posts

Mini-disconnects  ·  Get to know a furnace.  ·  Just the Facts

June 2016  4 posts

Dude, where’s my car?  ·  The Doodle  ·  Crazy  ·  Bones

February 2016  4 posts

Broken Records  ·  Little white numbers in little red circles  ·  Squirrel  ·  Right Now

January 2016  2 posts

I loved arguing with my son about doing his homework Never Alone

December 2015  1 post

Mr. Oldman stands up and expands

November 2015  3 posts

Some notes on Agile Development  ·  Single Tasking and Spotlight  ·  Sacrifices

October 2015  1 post

My Leaf blower doesn’t have bluetooth

June 2015  1 post

#Digital Portsmouth, The Art of Video Games

April 2015  2 posts

A call from out of the blue Ask

September 2014  1 post


May 2014  1 post

Nerd Alert

August 2013  1 post

UX for Technical Artists

February 2013  1 post

Cliques and Tribes

January 2013  2 posts

Pay it Forward Trust

May 2012  1 post

Four Distractions

October 2011  1 post

The three things we need at work