WHRN39: Improv Wisdom



Please bear in mind as you read what may or may not have been written by a caffeinated squirrel: This is the quickly-paraphrased-as-we-listened version of Write Here, Right Now, the podcast with KT & Moni (if you’d rather listen, scroll to the very bottom of this page for a PLAY button). What seemed to flow as a natural conversation on the recorded version doesn’t always translate to article format. But sometimes, ya know, it really does.


Don’t prepare, just show up

We are making a spontaneous recording today in which we are not prepared…in the best of ways of course. We are about to have an improv talk– with an improv recording session. We did think we would prepare for this, but then considered our sources for the episode. In her book, Improv Wisdom, Patricia Walden says “Don’t prepare, just show up.” So that’s what we did. We pressed record. We have shown up for you. We are here and now it will happen.

Yes and… what next?

So we start with the first rule of improv: Yes and… what next? The thing about life and the thing about improv is that we don’t know what to expect. We don’t know what our partners are going to throw at us. So in the spirit of improv, a good way to practice moving is with the flow. Resist less and let go of the need to control the situation.

On an improv stage, you can’t force your partner to do the skit you have in your head. It just comes. And that’s how life is. And our writing exercise. Just reminders on how to be better in the real world, in the real moment. And to support that moment even if it doesn’t feel like the best thing that could be happening to me right now. Its likely that someone else is “getting really cool things happening to them” and you could vibe off that if you would open you eyes and heart to allow for it.

don’t overthink about it

And of course that makes us think of Brooke Castillo’s coaching model from episode 34. Because it is not the circumstance itself that causes us pain or suffering. It is the thoughts we think about the circumstances we are in. We might not like the improv scenes our crew comes up with. We might not be able to readily see how the writing prompt can work into our story. But if we approach it with fun flexibility that lends to more fun, more pathways, more positive experiences, and more going with the flow. And in KT’s opinion that is a more fun and creative life worth living. Moni seconds that opinion.

…but we know KT’s grandfather said it

Yet again, we go back to KT’s grandfather’s quote: Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out. It is true all the time. In improv, in life, ANY WAY you look at it. Because it’s about how you look at it.


free your mind and the rest will follow

Improv is true magical synergy. Just like jammin’ musicians. Coming together with our brains and minds (our brinds!), open to create magic. It is such a cool practice that has so much potential to liberate us. We mentioned this about the life coach school podcast…that if you aren’t afraid to feel any emotion, then you can conquer anything! This is true on the stage of improv and the stage of life… if you aren’t afraid to look silly, to go along with any story line, to have any conversation at work, any day, any time, then you’ll (often) be a lot better off. You’ll be free.

choose your own adventure

KT had a brief stint in improv…remembering that ultimately to be good at improv, you have to let yourself be a 5 year old on the playground. They haven’t been conditioned yet, or preoccupied with motives to get fame or control….they just play. So let yourself play. Hack that 5 year old spirit. Get a little silly. Have some fun, put on a character, and have some childlike curiosity about life. Invite some freedom into your mix. Let go of that easy, comfortable, sameness for a moment. Life is a choose your own adventure…mix it up!

Like the little girl KT saw, playing volleyball by herself. Hitting it, running and grabbing it, hitting it in the other direction, going back and forth. She had a choice that day. She could’ve sat around. She could’ve been sad she didn’t have someone to play with, that she didn’t have a court, that she didn’t have a net…she could’ve said all of these reasons she couldn’t play volleyball today. But she invited it in anyway. She took the opportunity to make believe and chose her own adventure.

agree to be agreeable

Regardless of the circumstance, try not to say no. Or maybe try:
“No, I’m gonna yes and life today.”

The big secret is just saying YES.

One of the activities recommended in Improv Wisdom is to pick a person (to yourself, they don’t need to know) that you’ll generally agree with this week. You’ll try to find the good in their ideas, to be on their team, to support. So often we are pre-programmed to resist things that are new. So this prompt gives us a directive to detour our line of thinking. What happens if we supported this person, it changes their attitude, it changes their attitude toward you, and voila. The whole dynamic shifts.

So if you’re into the idea of you being agreeable… or at least more agreeable than your normal state of agreeableness… Just agree with the idea that you’re gonna be more agreeable. Say yes to that.

what if we say yes?

When KT was doing improv classes (which she highly recommends because it opens up a cool vulnerable spot that you might not have accessed yet , or similarly you could do our weekly writing exercise), she was given homework to go out into the world and ask someone a question that you knew the answer would be no to.  So KT’s Dad advised her to go to the grocery store and pick out the most expensive bottle of wine and ask to have it for free. SO she went up and told the clerk she lost her job and wasn’t feeling well and wanted this bottle of wine for free. The clerk (amazingly) went to ask her manager, who said no, sorry ma’am. KT felt so exhilarated. She advises you try this exercise, mindfully, without getting arrested.

Play with the idea of…it doesn’t matter what they say. It doesn’t matter if they reject you. What if they say yes? So be careful what you ask for.

are you ready to Write here, right now?

Start by saying yes to this opportunity: An interactive writing exercise! Get out your writing materials and your timer. You’ll read the first prompt (a character to the scene on the improve stage), write for 3 minutes, reveal the second prompt (another character), add to your story for 3 minutes, reveal the final prompt (an object of sorts), finish your story in 3 minutes to wrap up 1 final story. Read aloud and practice regularly. Email your story to [email protected] along with a few new prompts for us to share on future episodes!

1st prompt: This outgoing, attractive old person with an eye patch.

3 minutes!

2nd prompt: A rebellious young adult with a strange crystal.

3 more minutes!

3rd prompt: A duel!

final 3 minutes!


Tune in thru this soundcloud player to listen to our stories…we start reading after the wind chime at 15:23! (Or search for “write here, right now” on any other podcast platform!)

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