Found in 13 comments on Hacker News
tj-teej · 2023-09-18 · Original thread
The book Impro - it's a fantastic book written by an Improv coach, the first chapter on Status was one of those lightbulb moments for me, so many interactions I had everyday made so much more sense. Reading the first chapter is a better use of an hour than anything I can think of off-hand.

bmitc · 2023-06-04 · Original thread
The book I was referring to is Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre by Keith Johnstone:
I think comedy is one of the hardest things to pull off commercially. I did some attempts at stand-up at local open mics and it was brutal (mostly). It also taught me that the crowd is unpredictable (the success of a joke depends not on how good the joke is). Creativity and coming up with genuinely funny shit for me is linked to not paying attention to what your audience might want to read in the same way as an author who "writes for an audience". It kills your authenticity.

while pandering to your audience is bad you _do_ need feedback - so a catch 22. If you have a chance to play with ideas with a couple of other writers/comedians who take the process serious, feedback worth gold because nothing beats bouncing your ideas off one another. the other route is to try to do it all by yourself like Stewart Lee[1][2] who is imho a comedy god - but it requires insane levels of dedication, self-control and tenacity to get there (alone). Whether you're into comedy or not, Stewart Lee's "Content Provider" (imho) is a must watch for anyone who thinks about digital media (most people who reads HN).

one of my favorite sources on how to constantly be creative (not just in in the space of comedy) is John Cleese[3] and Keith Johnstone's "Impro"[4].

[1] (sharing this list feels wrong because jokes on stage live on back-references to previous jokes so much is lost)




maroonblazer · 2019-05-20 · Original thread
In addition to the other advice I'll add this:

-Take an acting class. Or an improv class, if that's easier to find. But acting classes address anxiety more effectively I think.

-Read "Impro" by Keith Johnstone[0]

I've had social anxiety since adolescence and eventually learned how to pretend to be functional socially. It involved a lot of observing of others for whom this came naturally and forcing myself into social situations where I could practice. Eventually you find that the people you interact with can make all the difference between this being 'work' vs 'fun'. Then you seek out the latter as much as possible to form your social network.


makebelieve · 2015-02-22 · Original thread
ground hog day / kill yourself. literally, kill yourself, but do it FOR something. what would you kill yourself to achieve? Think big. If you wouldn't kill yourself to achieve that thing, you are not thinking big enough. you'll know what it is, when you can say with a smile on your face: "Yeah, I would kill myself for THAT!" And that IS what you should do...because you are going to die no matter what.

the variation on this is groundhog day. So, you killed yourself and magically were transported back to your body the moment before dying. no one knew, only you. you are free, absolutely free from any sort of obligation to humanity or to live a certain way. basically, you get a true do over, but you are starting where you are. you can do anything. What are you going to do?

the reality is, every day is a do-over. There are no rules in life. everything about life comes from the inside out. things interact, but all those interactions are choices and coincidences that add up to what? No one, and I mean no person ever really knows what's going on, because all the action is happening down at the level of molecules. magically, your ideas can cause your molecules to do things.

there are no "rules" in the universe. there are just atoms and molecules interacting according to how they interact. It may look like there are some rules, but that's people just telling stories to describe what they think they see molecules doing. but it's all just stories. The secret is your ideas affect your molecules. how you connect and think about your ideas affects what your molecules do. that is real magic. ideas and "feelings" have nothing to do with molecules, with the molecules in our cells, in your brain, in the toe of the President. Molecules do what molecules do: atoms interacting with other atoms via their electron shells. yet somehow our ideas can make molecules do things. it's truly weird, wonderful, and amoral.

I would ask you to do 2 things before you shift your molecule dissolution date forward. 1) Practice meditation. simple attentive breathing, or using a mantra like "rom" for 20 minutes where you keep bringing your attention back to your breath, or to repeating the mantra. It is difficult to do and takes practice. As you get distracted from your breath or repeating the word, gently let go of those distracting thoughts and return your attention back to your breath or to the word. Try it for 2 weeks, everyday... it can't hurt you or anyone else by trying it. 2) pickup a copy of the book "Impro: Improvisation and the theatre" [ ] and try the various exercises described in the book. It's a book you can start reading on any page. Improvisation and perception exercises show how make believe our experience actually is. People have made everything up. I'll happily send you a copy if you like.

walterbell · 2015-01-07 · Original thread
Find a couple of friends to be a sympathetic audience, then give your 90-second speech as a description of the emotions and reactions that are running through your head. Describe them in real time, use the emotions as fuel instead of reasoning with them.

From "Impro",

"... Once you learn to accept offers, then accidents can no longer interrupt the action. When someone's chair collapsed, Stanislavsky berated him for not continuing, for not apologising to the character whose house he was in. This attitude makes for something really amazing in the theatre. The actor who will accept anything that happens seems supernatural; it's the most marvellous thing about improvisation: you are suddently in contact with people who are unbounded, whose imagination seems to function without limit."

spython · 2014-12-08 · Original thread
"Impro" by Keith Johnstone. It may seem like a book on improvisational theater, but is more a collection of notes on interaction between people. Quite eye-opening and empowering. Would recommend to anyone.
walterbell · 2014-08-02 · Original thread
There's a great improv book that helps with inter-universe clock sync and emotional reactions to resync operations :)
thirdtruck · 2013-05-01 · Original thread
Seconding sohamsankaran and natrius on this. Joining an improv club easily counts as one of my best decisions.

Let me recommend the book Impro (, in particular.

reeses · 2013-04-18 · Original thread
Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre ( has a great section on communicating status through body language and movement.

It describes a number of exercises where one actor takes the role of a superior and the other an inferior. The techniques are quite effective for the intended audience.

I would quote from it but I had a paper copy and it's really only worth running through once a decade for a non-actor interesting in the physical aspect of acting.

jamesbritt · 2012-07-11 · Original thread
It's been a habit of mine for a number of years to smile as soon as I wake up. It's a wicked hack and it works.

In AA they tell you to "fake it until you make it", and encourage newcomers to do assorted mundane "be useful" stuff like set up chairs or make coffee, even if (or especially if) you don't feel like doing it. The physical activity of being productive leads to a certain mental state.

BTW, much the same idea is discussed in this book:

Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre, by Keith Johnstone.

gte910h · 2011-05-30 · Original thread
If you're being a reddit punthreader, please kindly leave HN alone and die in a fire.

If you're honestly asking for more information: <=Excellent part on status improv

d_r · 2011-04-18 · Original thread
There is an excellent discussion of status games in the book "Impro." Highly recommend it if you're interested in hacking the non-tech side of things.

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