When I started Yes, And I thought it was going to be light and funny, similar to both Bossypants by Tina Fey and Yes Please! by Amy Poehler. (If you haven’t read either of these, do it! Or better yet, listen to the audiobooks!) Within the first few pages, I realized this isn’t a lighthearted comedic book. Instead, it details the elements of improv comedy, and how they relate to our everyday lives and jobs. Of course, there are funny parts too!
I bought Yes, And after watching my dear friend Jess Loucks keynote at the Southern Summit. She inspired us all to take risks and make room for creative chaos in our classrooms and schools.
Teaching isn’t an easy career, and neither is working with people. The skills required for improv are extremely relevant for navigating all types of social situations. To start, the concept of “yes, and” is powerful; rather than shutting down and saying “no” right away, or even worse, “yes, but,” the words “yes, and” acknowledge the person’s idea then builds on it. It propels brainstorming and creative thinking!
The day after I finished Yes, And I overheard a mother and young son (maybe 6 years old) chatting. The son had done something minor wrong, and said “I love you mommy!” The mom replied, “I love you too buddy, but we don’t…” I actually stopped what I was doing and went into deep thinking mode. How often do we unintentionally say“yes, but” in our lives? And, how often do we tie conditions to our love? Or acceptance of a new idea? I know I am guilty of this!
Another big idea in Yes And is the concept of active listening. I wish the chapter dedicated to listening had come up earlier; it’s such an important idea. Just as essential to “yes, and” in improv is the ability to actively listen to what your partner(s) is saying and build off of that. I know I’m guilty of frequently “listening to respond” or pretending to listen; instead, I need to work on “listening to understand” with both my eyes and ears.
I’ve never done improv comedy or take any sort of acting or improv classes…and now I think it would be a lot of fun!