Neurodiversity and Improv

Neurodiversity and Improv

A podcast about learning and performing improv comedy, primarily as (or with) neurodivergent performers. Episodes are about how being neurodivergent affects scenework, performance, teaching and coaching, teams, and learning (being a neurodivergent improv student). Not for diagnosing, not for therapy: just for discussing, learning, and being inclusive. No excuses, just explanation. Hosted by Jen deHaan of


March 7, 2024 31 mins

Most humans have some amount of mental imagery, or visual imagery. You might find that you use the visuals to help you build and remember improv scenes. The extreme ends are considered to be neurodivergence (they are called hyperphantasia and aphantasia), but regardless of what or how much you have you can do great improv.

Thanks for reading Improv and Neurodiversity - The FlatImprov Podcast Substack! Subscribe for free to receive ...

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Neurodivergent humans might communicate in a different way, a way that is difficult for neurotypical humans to understand. Different social communication styles not necessarily a deficit, and it’s not a pathology - it’s a difference. However, having difficulty communicating in a way other people understand it can be frustrating and isolating.

Because we’re misunderstood. And we don’t want to be! And it’s often why we mask.

There’s s...

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Last week I promised an episode about finding the unusual thing: how you find what’s weird at the top of a scene when you’re setting up the base reality that leads to the game. And here is that episode.

Communication is a challenge in improv, especially when we have different neurotypes playing together (which is probably… always). Our cognitive wiring is a fundamental difference between us, and at times it can lead to communication...

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I had A WEEK. So you’re getting AN EP that gets real.

So this week I experienced something related to last week’s episode (ep 10). I wrote all of the notes for an episode about finding the unusual thing as a neurodivergent improviser. But you’re getting that one next week, friend, because I’ve been thinking about this stuff instead.

And you know what happens when we get all focused on a subject. Well… this.

So this week I’m talking a...

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So in this episode you learn about the spectrum of visual imagination, from lots to none, and explore how you imagine visual details in improv. I cover what the spectrum of phantasia is, from hyperphantasia to aphantasia, then go into how it affects improv.

How you visually process details in a scene are not just important for exploring the environment, scene painting, or describing an object (the obvious parts). You can also use i...

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Masking is a common behaviour for autistic and/or ADHD people. It’s a trait that can be subconscious or conscious, and one we take on to suppress natural reactions, responses, physicality or expressions. This, of course, can affect how we position ourselves in scenes if we are trying to be the voice of reason and respond naturally and honestly.

Thanks for reading Improv and Neurodiversity - The FlatImprov Podcast Substack! Subscribe...

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We’ve all heard those sayings like “do not compare your chapter 1 to their chapter 6.” But that can be pretty hard to do. Especially when we get notes that relate to our brain wiring! Maybe we’re reading from, or writing, a completely different book.

It can be hard when our brains are so different in a word that’s constructed for a different (neurotypical) wiring altogether. And here we are up on a stage with everyone watching us....

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This episode was inspired by a discussion I had with another improviser about fast and slow edit moves. They were told by a teammate to edit faster. The answer I gave them was a bit of an opinionated monologue infodump, and I was told I should turn that monologue into a podcast.

So here we are.

What we're talking about today is edit moves, with focus on the speed of those edit moves and what it might have to do with your neurotype...

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Masking is a common behaviour for autistic and/or ADHD people (or those of us who are both). It's sometimes referred to as camouflaging, mimicking, or being a social chameleon. You might mask subconsciously - you might not even realize you do it! But it's essentially suppressing your natural reactions, responses, physicality or expressions in order to hide some of your natural behaviours or instincts. Your first reaction.

Masking ca...

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Very excited about this ep! This week I am joined by Sabrina Banes, an improviser who has a condition called misophonia.

Sabrina Banes is an improviser and Tarot reader who lives in Brooklyn with her two cats, Shumai and Althea. She currently performs with her longform indie teams, Jace Spam and Dolly Lana, and with her Improv College narrative house team, Oops! We Fell In Love. Find Sabrina online: Instagram and Linktree.

In this ep...

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If you are a bottom-up thinker, there are certain techniques in long-form improv that might work better if you try to do top-down thinking instead. Why would you do such a thing? And When?

Game and second beats might be challenging to a bottom-up thinker. You need to get used to wrapping up a bunch of details into a single idea, gist, or synopsis regardless of what direction you think in. The synopsis is where top-down thinkers star...

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Bottom-up thinking or bottom-up processing is common way for autistics to process information. It’s wired into our brains and affects EVERYTHING. How does this type of thinking affect doing improv scenes, especially when it comes to plots? In particular… when you weren’t expecting a plot, and suddenly things get plotty?

Bottom-up thinking affects how we follow sets, pull in information, process, and make decisions. So if we’re tryi...

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The sense of being perceived is all about the activity you are doing when you are being looked at by other people. Having strong feelings about this kind of perception is common particularly with the autistic neurotype. And it can sure seem illogical or contradictory at times, too.

And… people look at you in improv… a lot!

Learn about what being perceived means to neurodivergent improvisers. What is it? How does being perceived work...

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November 11, 2023 15 mins

This episode details what neurodivergence is, and why it’s relevant to improv. I include a couple of examples in there. Check out the transcript tab on this page to see the text version of this episode.

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit
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October 30, 2023 4 mins

Introduction by Jen to the new FlatImprov podcast. We're starting with the intersection of neurodivergence and improv.

This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit
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