Improvisation – it’s all about the “Yes And”. It’s as easy as that. This two word phrase connects people, and helps move the scene forward. The performers agree to the concept of “Yes And”; they agree to say YES to the offer and build on to it with the word AND. This begins to move the scene.
Over the years, as I taught improv I would encourage new students to avoid responding with “NO” which to many seemed like an impossibility. People would think “No” is the easy way out of the scene. Really, it blocks the scene from moving forward. It stops it dead in its tracks for newer students. It’s as if the player saying NO is challenging the player making the offer and saying “Top that”.
Improvisation isn’t about blocking each other, it’s all about making the other person look good. Making sure you have their back. If you support the player next to you, they will support you back in the world of improvisation. And it all starts with a little two word phrase “YES AND”.
As I was learning improv some ump-teen years ago with ComedySportz, I started to realize that “Yes And” is a life style. Whether in a show or not, the concept of Yes And, helps move the situation forward and NO just encourages frustration, or makes people feel unheard. Yes, there are times we definitely have to say NO, and I am not encouraging saying YES blindly; YES I’ll take on another project, YES add more to my plate, YES, YES, YES. Remember the phrase is two words “YES AND”, and that “AND” is very important. It adds the connection. For example, “YES, lets look at that project, AND see how we can work on it together. ”
For one day try saying “Yes And” to as many situation that come your way. Suppress your urge to quickly replay with a “NO”. Listen, connect, and respond with “Yes And”. Move the scene, move the situation forward. See if this inspires a more creative solution.