The Tao of Improv: an introduction

(NOTE: Originally posted at Seattle Comedy Nerd)

I recently read the ridiculously wonderful and still-just-as-relevant-as-it-was-in-2000 article¬†A Dao of Web Design¬†on A List Apart. It is the thoughts of a designer living at a time when the expectation for a website was to be “pixel-perfect” on each browser, a feat that was difficult to accomplish to say the least. He uses passages from the Tao Te Ching to highlight why he thinks this approach must be set aside.

Long story short, in reading the article, I realized that many of the passages could equally pertain to improv. Not a new idea, as he points out that everything from Winnie the Pooh to Physics has gotten the Tao treatment, but that was the 90’s, 20+ years ago, so now it will be delightfully retro chic to apply it to my particular set of interests.

So I picked up a copy of the Tao Te Ching and have started reading it with one eye always on improv and how these passages can contain lessons on our favorite performance art form. Already I have made some copious notes, so I wanted to start a semi-regular series on the passages and the thoughts I had on them. Hopefully opening them up for further discussion.

Note that I am in no way a Taoist or real student of the Tao. These posts will be mostly based on a very brief reading of one translation of the Tao Te Ching, with little time given for true introspection and analysis. Mostly just gut reactions to the work and the things that pop to mind when I read them. Perhaps later there will be time to truly study it and make deeper connections, but that isn’t the point right now. The point is to write, and the Tao Te Ching will act as one of my inspiration engines.

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