Yes, and…

I went to an improv comedy show last night in a cramped, hot, sweaty little pub and it was…AWESOME! I had no idea Groningen had an English speaking theater group or that there was a weekly improv show on Mondays at O’Caellaigh’s. If you’re in the area check out “Stranger Things Have Happened“.

First, I have much respect for any person that would get up in front of a group of random strangers and attempt to build a show around the suggestions tossed out from the crowd. Some of the ideas are just absurd. But that is what makes it funny. I love watching how the sketches unfold…seeing the adaptability and creativity of the performers put to the test.

I was talking with one of the performers after the show about the foundational principle of improv. You can never say…no or block a suggestion. Your response to any idea or change in the story line has to be “yes…and”. You have to accept the change…and then add something to it. Here’s the example wikipedia gave me for this concept:

Often considered the main rule of Improv, all it says is that you are not allowed to negate other people’s statements. Instead, add on to them.. For example, here is an example of a scene where “Yes, and…” is not used:

SUGGESTION: tournament

  • 1: Alright, are you ready to tee off?
  • 2: What are you talking about? We’re not on a golf course, we’re at a basketball court!

The scene is instantly killed by negating what player 1 said. Here’s an example of “Yes, and…” used correctly:

  • 1: Alright, are you ready to tee off?
  • 2: Yeah, but I’m pretty nervous. It’s the last hole, and I’m ahead by 2 strokes.

Player 2 has now added on to the scene, and developed a problem and a place for the scene to go.

Interesting, huh? I’ve decided that life is a bit like an improv show…you may have an idea of the direction it is headed but unexpected things will get added to it. You can’t necessarily change the additions but you can change how you respond to it. Will you block the change…or say “yes, this is now part of my story…and this is how I will build on it.” It doesn’t mean that saying “yes” is easy, but by being able to say it keeps your life moving forward.



16 thoughts on “Yes, and…

  1. Wow, Lynnea, you really do think in metaphors! I feel flattered that you used yesterday’s event in your blog (just cuz I and my kid(s) were part of it). Do you mind if i show Naomi and Tom? It really is quite profound how you’ve analyzed improv. By the way, after your travels, maybe we can do it again. Thanks again for being such a sport and coming and out and being willing to laugh at such a time.

  2. I love that concept too. Such fun!
    And the way you translate it to life is some good stuf that makes sense, just like all the things you write on your blog makes sense.
    I’ m glad that you are almoast done with the therapy’s. Hang on in there.
    Groetjes from Croatia,

  3. An absolutely brilliant analogy, Lynnea! I’m so glad you went and had a fantastic time. Laughter is therapeutic and can help our bodies and souls begin the healing process. Hugs to you!

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