Yes, And…

It’s the first rule of improv and the key to performing with another person.  Whatever they do, wherever they go, say “yes, and” not “no, but”.  

Whether you’re executing a “bit” on the radio or being interviewed on television or ad-libbing in any other realm, “yes, and” will get you far.  “No, but” is the death of the bit or the conversation.

If you’ve ever watched the TV show Whose Line is it Anyway you’ve seen “Yes, and” in action. No matter what kind of ridiculous idea one of the performers comes up with, the other or others always play along and build on it.  If Ryan Stiles says he’s bathing in chocolate syrup you will never, ever hear one of the others say, “No you’re not, it’s caramel!”  They will just naturally accept that it’s chocolate syrup and build the story from there. Why? Because as soon as you kill an idea you’re left with a dead end and nowhere else to go. You leave your partner with the task of starting the scenario all over again.  If you say “yes, and” you continue the story.  It’s a philosophy as old as Second City and taught in their improv workshops.

If you’re in broadcasting and you’re paired with someone, the best way to build a team approach and to move a bit or an idea forward is to use “yes and”.  That doesn’t mean you always agree 100%.  It doesn’t mean you hold back on your own ideas.  It just means that you work as a team and when one of you lays down a building block, the other builds on top of it and doesn’t tear it all down.