The Myth of Yes And - a colorful cartoon

Debunking the Myth of YES AND

If you’ve ever taken an improv class, you’ve probably heard the golden rule of “yes and”. It means you accept whatever your scene partner offers you and build on it.

For example, if they say “We’re on a spaceship”, you don’t say “No, we’re not, we’re in a zoo”. You say something like, “Yes, and the aliens are after us again, Mom.”

Sounds simple, right? Well, not so fast!

After playing a quick warmup round of 5 Fast Things, Izzy and I uncovered some situations where saying “yes and” is not such a great idea. In fact, YES AND can get you into trouble or put you in dangers! Here are two examples:

  • When you’re on a first date and he asks you if you would like to rob a bank, you don’t say “Yes, let’s do it and I already work at a bank, so this should be easy!” Instead, you say, “Wait, what? You want to rob a bank? What kind of weirdo are you? Waiter, check please!”
  • When you’re in a tsunami in the South Pacific, and someone says “Let’s go hide in the basement!” you don’t do agree to do that. Instead you might point out that you don’t feel like drowning and suggest doing something else.

The point is, saying “yes and” is not about agreeing to everything someone says. It’s about accepting it as their reality and their offer. You can still disagree, challenge, or question what they say, as long as you do it in a way that moves the scene forward.

So the next time you find yourself in an improv situation, remember: yes and is not a magic formula. It’s a tool to help you create something together. Use it wisely, and have fun!

ps – And here’s an example of how playing 5 FAST THINGS can get people talking and sharing stories!

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