I just got home from performing in an improv show in downtown Denver. It was a blast. New place, new friends, new only-told-one-time stories being written in the moment. In 2005, I studied improv at the SAK Comedy Lab in Orlando. It was a pivotal year. I learned a lot about myself and life.
The first basic rule of improv is “Yes, and…” I first learned this from Beth Bacall when we worked in radio together in New Jersey. She mentioned it in passing and my mind’s curiosity held tightly to the idea. Years later, when I was yearning to grow and learn and expand, I found classes in Orlando where I spent a year soaking up the art of improv.
When an idea is presented to you on stage, you accept it. You either say “yes” literally, or you say “yes” by accepting the offer, “and” then adding to it.
“Our mailbox is on fire!” “Yes, and I came in to see if we have any marshmallows.” 🙂
Otherwise you block the idea with your words or actions. Blocking makes it painfully difficult to tell a story together.
“Our mailbox is on fire!” “No it’s not. You’re nuts. I’m leaving.”
It takes SO MUCH TIME to re-train your brain to say “yes” in these classes. The inclination is to block.
Slowly, I became aware of how I blocked lots of things, lot of ideas, and lots of people – and I’m not talking about on stage. It pained me to see how much I had been blocking life by rolling my eyes, by saying something sarcastic, by bickering, by shooting down ideas, by clamming up…
I was a master blocker.
God used improv lessons to change my life. I learned to say: yes, and…
“Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us.” – 2 Corinthians 1:20-22 The Message Bible
“Yes, and” was just the first step in my improv journey. I grew staggeringly stronger spiritually in 2005. The lessons that followed “yes, and…” were equally as powerful and impactful. I’ll find time to write more soon.
God, help me say yes.
Give me a yes heart.
Give me a yes face.