I've never been a part of stand-up comedy training but I'd love to one day. Not because I think I'm funny but because of the way in which comedians train, I think I'd take so much away. Same is true for an acting class. Any one want to join me? Now I'm all excited that you might raise your hand and come with me to one of these classes, and overnight we'll both be instantly funny!
One of the basic principles you might in either one of these classes is "Yes and...." This means that you respond to yourself or the people around you with a "yes and" mentality (and sometimes even those exact same words). You won't hear "no, the original plan was" or a "yes but we've already decided that you play this role and I'm this person." Creativity in stand-up comes most often with a "yes and" framing up the conversation or segment.
Watch a comedian. He/she might notice that the crowd gives a big laugh after talking about the family cat. The story up next is about the comedian's neighborhood and according to the outline, it's time to move to that segment. Yet, instead he/she takes on "yes and" and mentions something else about the family cat which then leaves the crowd laughing even more.
Unpredictable characters in a skit with crazy, unorthodox one liners. How shall I respond?
Yes and I will be flexible and imaginative and adventurous.
Hummm... sounds like something of interest for us non-comedians too, huh?
I witnessed this in a leadership course a few years back. A local guild of actors came in to train us on this mentality and even using this phrase in our daily life. We used this phrase "yes and" in several skits to break the ice. When you have us boring business folk, you have to lighten the mood and get everyone opened up to an ounce of foolishness. It was quite drastic how different a "yes and" sounded in every situation, for fun or real-world, most especially over a "yes but".
Signifies a cooperative spirit
Leaves the table open for discussion thus creativity
Puts people over the process
Facilitates vs. Dictates
As we go into 2018, I believe that "yes and" might help us tremendously. Over the past two weeks, I've been working intentionally on crafting my 2018 goals, big and small. I'm excited for short term and long term goals to continue or begin for the first time. With that, I need remind myself of that training of being a "yes and" person as things don't always go as planned or when opportunities surface that I had never dreamed of in December 2017.
Yes the goal is this, I thought it would look like this, and now there is something totally different that has surfaced.
What this doesn't apply to is our core values- how we operate out of conviction. Let's be clear on that.
I've learned this is most especially helpful with feedback, brainstorming, and meetings in general. Maybe you don't agree with someone's idea to the fullest. "Yes and" becomes a way of adding your idea without being that jerk that says "That's terrible and you should go home and/or find a new job." Don't mis-read this is a lack of honesty or being a "yes man" or "yes woman". This is an intentional use of words that continues the conversation beyond our self frameworks.
It's also a great way to give feedback. For example, someone checks out of a project or task because of believing a situation is out of his/her control. "Yes, I agree with your thought process of that being an external factor at work BUT I think we can also do something about that challenge. What are some ways we can bring it back into our court?" Now swap out "but" for "and". "Yes, I agree with your thought process of that being an external factor at work AND I think we can also do something about that challenge. What are some ways we can bring it back into our court?" It sounds and feels and acts different.
I could spend hours watching Jimmy Fallon episodes online (but thanks Lara Casey with Cultivate What Matters for keeping me on track by spending my time a bit more intentionally... Whoops, I should have said AND thanks Lara Casey....) My favorite parts of the entire show are when Jimmy Fallon and Higgins basically do their own impromptu comedy on the most random of things. Watch these guys-- they truly take on a "yes and" mentality. And the result is creativity.
Yes, and a good deal of laughter.