The Benefit of Yes And
There's a lot of talk about "yes anding" in improv comedy. I've said plenty about it in previous blogs.
There was one particular benefit I wanted to mention and it's positivity.
Obviously, saying, "no," and denying what someone wants to do doesn't feel good. Only saying "yes," to your scene partner may seem like all you need to do in order for your partner to feel accepted, however, if it's followed up with, "but," then it doesn't actually feel like you're being accepted.
Think about times when you're talking to someone and one of you says, "but," somewhere in the conversation. It automatically feels like being shut down. We're almost conditioned to respond that way to someone saying, "but."
"Yeah, but..." is hardly ever followed up with full blown acceptance of what was previously said. So we end up feeling shut down.
When someone in conversation says, enthusiastically, "YES, and..." to me I feel like they're on my side. Not merely like they "agree," but that they are fully on board with what I'm presenting. It feels good! Like they genuinely enjoy me and what I have to say. Like I have a comrade who will have my back so much that they'll go to the mattresses for me.
It's no different in an improv scene.
If I were doing a scene and someone said to me, "Yeeaaah, but..." then I'm going to feel like they don't want to go along with my ideas, they don't really like my ideas, and they don't really enjoy playing with me. I will inherently feel judged.
We all know that's probably not what my scene partner means, but it's how I will feel because that's what that ish sounds like - a lack of desire to play along.
If you needed another reason to "Yes, and" with enthusiasm, it's to make your fellow players feel good when they play with you.