I have been taking improvisation with The Groundlings. (Improvisation is live, unrehearsed theatre where performers create a scene based on a suggestion from the audience.
The Groundlings are an improvisational comedy group – and school – in Los Angeles, California, whose alumni includes Will Ferrell, Jennifer Coolidge, Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz, and Pee-Wee Herman.)
There are a few “rules” for improvisation, and one of the most basic is saying “yes” to everything. The thought being that accepting information, and agreeing with the other performers will allow for the scene to move in a positive direction.
When I heard this “rule”, I thought about how it also applies to real life.
In real life, you always have (at least) two choices. You can say yes or no. It seems easy enough. Most questions require a yes or no answer:
Would you like a burrito? Yes.
Would you like to move to Los Angeles? Yes.
See? I am saying “yes” to everything, and we are moving in a positive direction (West).
In real life, you will come across people who say “no”. They don’t like to accept any information but their own, and they are never in agreement. They say “no” to everything.
Would you like a burrito? No.
Would you like to move to Los Angeles? No.
See? They are going nowhere.
These people are not the kind of people you would want to do improvisation with, and they are definitely not the kind of people you would want to do real life with either. They don’t like to take chances, step out of their comfort zone, or try anything new.
In improvisation you want to find people that are willing collaborators, that want to have fun, and learn, and take chances.
In real life you also want to find people that are willing collaborators, that want to have fun, and learn, and take chances.
So… I decided that from now on, I’m going to take the improv approach to real life and say “yes” to most things (within reason) because saying “yes” has worked out (so far).
I said “yes” to my husband when he was just my boyfriend and he asked me to marry him. I said “yes” when he asked me if I wanted to move to Los Angeles. I said “yes” when I called The Groundlings office and they said, “Hello” and then they said, “Would you like to register for a class?”