DARIEN — When Darien resident Dan Guller was laid off from his job last year at a bank in Old Greenwich, the first thing he and his husband did was go on a road trip for the summer with their dog. But when they returned, the Missouri transplant was stumped on his next career move. A former New York City actor who moved to Darien in 2009, Guller wanted to do something involving performing without competing with the local theater companies whose work he enjoys.

“I thought ‘what do I want to do?’” he said. “I love to act, but it’s difficult getting into the city. I thought ‘how can I do something up here?”

Inspiration struck one day while Guller was talking to his neighbor about her “mommy brain” which left her so focused on her kids that she couldn’t think about anything else.

“I put two together and thought improv can help with that,” Guller said.

When Guller says improv, he doesn’t mean the standup comedy specials found on Netflix, but the kinds of games seen on shows like “Whose Line is It Anyways?” During the 16 years he lived and performed in New York City, Guller did musicals and plays, but found he always thrived in improv.

“I always loved it,” he said. “When I went to an improv audition, it was different. I felt like I was home. It was so much easier.”

More Information

Yes and Company

Yes and Company is offering two free classes in West Norwalk on Monday, July 10.

Due to space limitations, registration is required.

For more information or to register, call (203) 900-4937 or email dan@yesandcompany.net.

When Guler helps a friend out in teaching a yearly session at Washington University at St. Louis he sees other benefits from developing improv skills.

“We got great feedback and had so much fun with those classes,” said Guller adding the improv skills help students in business to think on their feet and to keep conversations going.

Guller then put together a class of improv exercises and tried it out on mothers in his neighborhood. It was a success and from there, “Yes and Company” was born, Guller’s own company focused on creating and providing classes that focus on mental fitness.

“Yes and Company comes from the basic tenet of improv,” Guller said. “You’re in a scene with someone and they bring a prop or an idea and you say ‘yes and…’ to them as part of continuing the scene.”

Guller emphasizes the classes may be based on improv exercises, but aren’t about performing, but rather exercising the mind by coming up with new situations in these games and continuing a narrative. He advertises them not as improv, but as brain fitness.

“That’s a concept you can bring to any career,” Guller said. “I used it in banking with customer complaints (‘I understand that’s difficult and…’). In parenting, you say no all day...how freeing it is just to say yes to people.”

So far, Guller has only tried out his classes on friends and neighbors, but on July 10, he’ll be holding his first class for the general public in West Norwalk. Guller said for the time being, he’ll be working in rented spaces, traveling to different communities as he gets his start.

“It’s going to be a traveling show,” he said. “It’s such a new concept. People don’t think with physical fitness of mental fitness also.”

ekayata@hearstmediact.com; @erin_kayata