Do not try to be funny. That was the first thing our instructor told us when a friend and I joined an improvisational comedy class this summer.

A little confused, we asked him what the point of this “comedy class” was exactly. With a sage-like smirk, he introduced us to a few golden rules of improv.

The first: “Yes, and…”. You take everything your co-actors throw at you and play along. Not negating anything.

So if your co-actor asks why the sun is rising at midnight, instead of saying that is not possible, you pretend to put your sunglasses on.

The second: make your co-actor look good. When put on the spot (literally), cracking a joke can be a source of enormous pressure and yet, at the same time, tantalising.

To both take the pressure off and coordinate a scene of several people who are trying to create a story on the spot, you’re best off focusing on your improv partner’s well-being.

This is what would make things funny and make a scene work like a symphony, the instructor said.

We wondered how.

But on the day of the final performance to which friends, family, and strangers with nothing better to do on a Sunday evening came to watch us fumble, we saw this work.

The room lit up when instead of trying to be funny, we just tried to be in the moment. We could feel the audience feeding off our energy.

The mistakes added to the fun, both for us and the audience. Seeing people trying earnestly to be in the moment, and stopping short of delivering a perfect punchline, was funnier than anything a rehearsed set may have delivered. Even we, the performers, were laughing as we said our lines.

The mistakes did not stop scenes going forward with a “yes, and…” The loudest laughs during the evening came for a series of jokes built on a mistake. We knew it, the audience knew it, and that was what made it fun.

It is remarkable how relevant these improv principles are to everyday life (and scary how many LinkedIn-style posts they could inspire).

So as another year begins, with its unknown premises and uncertain challenges, I say to myself, “Yes, and…”