“I am your long lost sister.”
“No, you are not.”
“I am your long lost sister.”
“YES, you are!!!! You have my same weird birthmark shaped like garlic.”
Okay, granted, my example was not funny, but do you see how the scene takes off? Now we are going places! The possibilities are endless.
Needless to say, I have witnessed and, at times, been a part of great improv. I talked months ago in the blog about The National Theatre of the World who are some of the greats at improv. And of course I am married to one of the masters of improv, as you know. But these people are not great because they are funny, although that is a big part of it. No, they are great because they know how to play the game the way it should be played and that is summed up by one simple phrase: Yes And.
Yes And is key to great improvising. If I make a statement in a scene, you should accept it. YES and then add to it ... AND.
Last week when Colin and I were at Chicago Second City I got to thinking about the Yes And and thought, wouldn’t it be great if we all Yes Anded in LIFE? What if we confirmed and added to every statement someone offered us in conversation?
Even if we didn’t agree with the statement, it would work. You could totally disagree and yet still forward the thought.
“I think that Picasso was the greatest artist of the 20th century.”
“I hate Picasso. I could paint his crap with my feet.”
Yes Anding would maybe make it...
“I think Picasso was the greatest artist of the 20th century”
“Yes, he had an amazing way of looking at the world and I think it’s great that you appreciate his work, but I tend to love his earlier more realistic stuff more.”
We open the conversation while still holding our opinion. We don’t block the person. We don’t downgrade their opinion. We show respect for other ideas and thoughts and we add our opinion.
I do confess that this becomes a stumbling block around, “Don’t you just love Nazis?” However, you still might even be able to Yes And that with:
“Yes, I thought their uniforms were very slimming, but I really despised their guts.”
See? A nod to the slim tailored uniforms keeps the ball in the air. The conversation is still afloat.
Seriously though, all I am saying is that especially with venues like Facebook, I am finding that people just ram negative comments at us all the time. And in conversation I rarely hear anyone start a sentence anymore with “In my opinion, dot dot dot...” On the contrary, it often seems that we state things as fact. No wiggle room. I did not like the movie you liked, therefore said movie stank. Do not challenge me.
I find this blocking stance especially irksome regarding the arts. Art is subjective, isn’t it? Isn’t that the beauty of it?
I was never a modern art gal until the boy at the age of four enticed us into its world and now, although I certainly don’t like everything I see, I have grown to not only appreciate it, but to understand its beauty and strength.
“Mommy, I want to go into that room where there is a giant number five balancing on a bloody bird feather”.
“No, sweetie, that’s modern art. It’s scary. We don’t like it.”
Yes And brings us...
Yes, sweetie, that looks amazing. Let’s go in there and see the giant baby head balancing on a feather and it will become your lifelong passion and we will bond over it and as a result we will see modern art all over the world and sometimes it will make us laugh and sometimes it will make us puke and we will have wonderful conversations about it over dinners and we will have wonderful conversations about it over the years and we will meet at modern art galleries when you move away from home and it will be good and it will stimulate us and we will always remember the first time we went there.
Yes And. After all, isn’t that what we do every day of our lives ... improvise?
Barbara: Aw, Deb, you made me both laugh and teary with this one. How can I not laugh at “slimming Nazi uniforms”? But there is a core truth here that hits very close to home for me. Did you know that one of my most challenging times was when I worked with someone who (unwittingly) said no to almost every one of my ideas? It took me a long time to realize how frustrated, confused, and ultimately belittled it made me feel. When I finally realized what was happening, I pointed it out to him—and, to his credit, he was totally shocked. Ironically, this habit was so ingrained that, as we continued to work, his solution was mostly a tentative Yes But. Which sounds better, but is essentially the same as “no”. Worst of all was how I ended up reacting—by turning in desperation to my own crude, heels-dug-in-stubborn and strident no, No, NOs! *embarrassed shudder* (lesson learned)
What an amazing and wondrous experience it is when someone takes your idea or thought or notion and expands upon it, allowing it to billow up, bigger and wider, until it is airborne and gloriously huge. Yes And is flying and dreaming and collaborating and connecting and relating and hearing. Yes And is the best kind of fuuuuuuuuun.