People in improv are always talking about the idea of “Yes, and . . .” but what does it really mean?
So you’re on the stage, there’s an audience in front of you. One of the other people on the stage sets the scene. “I love being on the beach,” they say, with an eager nod towards you. Your immediate thought is to reject their idea, because the prompt was about alien interactions, and the beach is so boring! But they already talked about the beach, so that’s the world you have to work in. So you say, “Yes, I sure do love getting a tan. Do you have any sunscreen?”
Yes and is a central concept to improv comedy. The idea is to support your fellow comics, and in doing so support the comedy. Not only do you not reject, belittle, or change the concept presented, you add to it. So even if you think the idea is the stupidest thing in the entire galaxy, it doesn’t matter. Agree, and add to it. And if by adding to it you are able to shift that idea into something more digestible, then go for it. For the success of the scene, you need to be able to let go of control and go with what is presented. By being open to the ideas and actions of those around you, it might trigger a sort of catalyst response, and the end result is something funnier than you could imagine on your own. Who knows? All you have to say is yes… and….