Deep Yes-Anding

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sara farr
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Deep Yes-Anding

Post by sara farr »

I was inspired by this concept a few months ago and wished I could talk more about it -- "deep yes-anding". Is there another name for this? I couldn't find anything about it on the internet.

Well, if you haven't played with this, it is very interesting. It was one of those things that -- though it's not new information (I learned about yes-anding on my first day of improv class) -- when explained in a new way seemed to flip a switch in my head.

You may already know about Yes-Anding. It is an idea where you accept whatever your partner gives you (the "yes" part) and add to it (the "and" part). But most people flippantly accept offers then ignore them by adding new stuff instead of strengthening and elaborating on the first offer. This can be hard to do when you are a beginner because your social instinct is to protect yourself. BUT it is also hard as an intermediate or even advance player because after doing improv for a while, you may find you are getting sloppy, cocky, or just plain lazy.

As I understand it, with "Deep Yes-Anding", you are not just saying, "Yeah, sure, I'm your doctor... now how about that farm I want to sell you", you are REALLY and DEEPLY accepting whatever your scene partner gives you.

You can do this by first repeating back exactly what your partner gives you. Do it neutral with no emotion, then add character emotion. Next elaborate on the offer without pushing the scene forward, or getting away from the offer. Work on making the offer DEEPER (stronger, more potent, more profound) rather than broader, or more expansive (which is still shallow).

After drilling in this, the following scenes seemed to be clearer and it felt like the players were really in total agreement -- MAGICALLY -- on something that was not there before. It was fun to watch!

It doesn't have to be an emotion, and it doesn't have to be positive. It works with everything, as long as you stick to the essence of that first offer.


A - Your hair is curly.
B - Its not a perm. It's naturally like this. Not just a bit wavy or curly like an afro, but definitely curly.
A - I can see you have little locks that twist around and around, like pasta.
B - It is as curly as it was on the day I was born. My grandmother had curly hair, my mother had curly hair, and I have curly hair, too. Curly hair runs in the family.

[This may actually be getting off track, but we'll see what you guys think]

A - If I were going to make one of those goofy county fair portraits of you I'd use twisted pasta or Twizzlers to make your hair.
B - My curls bounce and spring when I run.
A - I am jealous of your curly hair. I wish I had curls like yours.
B - My hair is really like Medusa's. It undulates like a nest of writhing snakes. Hsss!
A- Where have I seen curly hair like that? I know! You're hair is just as curly as that chick's hair on the "Wanted" poster over there. I knew I'd seen it before!

[Definitely getting off track here - but it is hard not to move the scene forward!]

What do you guys think?

What are some approaches you can take towards DEEPENING an offer?
- Repeat the offer verbatum?
- Liken the offer to something else?
- Add character emotion or opinion?
- Give history?

Floyd VanBuskirk
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Post by Floyd VanBuskirk »

Hmm. Sounds to me like just practicing good listening, which is always going to bring more depth and connection to scene work. I am reminded of communication exercises in couples or group therapy where the first thing you do is repeat to your partner what you heard them say and then say how that makes you feel. I think it serves the same purpose but in a different context. You can't just say yes as a formality and then throw in your "Brilliant AND" idea this way. Which is what can often happen in Yes And when people are being flippant as you noted they often can be. Perhaps this DEEP YES AND is really closer to REAL YES AND as opposed to YEAH AND WHAT ABOUT THIS? When played the way you describe it here, you must really listen, accept and enhance your partners offer. This would likely cause players to feel more connected on stage. I know I feel closer to someone when I believe they are really listening to me both on stage and in life. As far as not moving the scene forward, that is very hard to do since I believe we are narrative monkeys that really can't help but try to figure out the story, ALL THE TIME. But it's nice when you can just be with your friends and not worry about taking care of the story. The story show up if you take care of each other. I don't know that I have anything else to add to this conversation at this point. I am afraid all I have at the moment is a "Yes". A "DEEP Yes".
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Post by KathyRose »

Well ... if "deep yes-anding" resulted in a ten minute discussion of curly hair, where it comes from, how to style it, and so forth, I don't think it would be very interesting to watch. Unless you're really into hair.

I'm thinking that "deep" doesn't mean limiting the conversation to a specific subject, but rather giving each statement and response an honest hearing, and exploring the implications of what was said, rather than willfully moving the conversation in another direction. Something like this:

A - Your hair is really curly.
B - Yeah, it is. I always felt self-conscious about it in school.
A - You mean, the other kids made fun of it?
B - They called me brillo-head ... and other things that weren't so nice.
A - Yeah, kids are so mean that way. ... But I like it.
B - You do?
A - Yeah - I think curly hair is sexy.
B - No way!
A - Way!

What's compelling about a conversation is not the subject, but what the subject reveals about the characters' points of view, objectives, etc.
What is to give light must endure burning. - Viktor Frankl
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Post by DollarBill »

Don't forget that you can say yes without actually saying yes. You can give many gifts and informations and insights by saying yes in your mind and jumping to conclusions about what that means for the scene:

A: Your hair is curly.
They call me Dollar Bill 'cause I always make sense.
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sara farr
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Post by sara farr »

Thank you to those of you who have posted. However I was hoping to hear from those who has done this exercise. If you've done this or lead this drill, please post!!!
Improv Lova
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Re: Deep Yes-Anding

Post by Improv Lova »

Hi Sara Farr!

I love the idea you shared of deep yes-anding.
I tried to repeat offers verbatim, add history, or use an analogy as you suggested.I found adding history or developing an analogy does a good job of deepening the offer.

Two other actions I learned help me with this idea too. Here they are for you!

1) Asking myself in an interaction, 'What is this person asking of me? What am I asking of the other person?'

Getting clarity on this helps me open up, share, and connect more easily. For example, if my mother tells me, 'I had the strangest dream last night, almost like I had this inspiration to visit my place of worship.' I would respond with, so you're asking me to a) listen & imagine your dream, b) go to this place of worship with you today, or c) both? Then move from there. I find that this step helps me get to the justification of a statement too. This then allows me to be more chivalrous, allowing the other person's words to change my decisions, and thus creating empowering energy between us.

2) Asking myself in an interaction, 'If this is true, what else is true?'

This feels like 'Yes And' in question format to me, which is good because as you said, 'Yes And' is easier said than done. I heard on an Improv Blog that if you strive to answer this Q to govern your actions, it makes for more interesting scene work. However, I've found it's hard to answer this question on the spot, but when it happens, it often takes me in new directions while still keeping me rooted to the first offer.

For example, 'I love how that actor changed his weight drastically to be ready for his new film.' I then think to myself, 'if it's true that actors change themselves to fit new roles rapidly, what else is true about that? Well it's true that there are several movies that illustrate this example. That would then take me to, 'I remember seeing a movie where the film required the actor to be overweight in the first part, and then completely toned up for the second part!'

You asked me to provide you my thoughts, so here it is! I please ask you to respond when you get a moment, as I'd like to hear where I can provide more clarity, what's worked-not worked for you, and where you align or differ from my statements!

Vishal :D
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Re: Deep Yes-Anding

Post by jrec747 »

If you ever take a workshop from the guys from Dasariski (Bob Dassie, Craig Cackowski, and Rich Talarico) of the exercises they teach is "I know because." This is yes-anding at a much deeper level because it focuses on the very last thing said. One person says a line, the next person has to say "I know because..."So instead of:

"I got an A on my science project"
"Yes..and I today I got a promotion!"
"Yes..and I feel like my diet is working"


"I got an A on my science project"
"I know because your Dad helped you with it"
"I know because he really wants me to get into college"
"I know because no one in your family has yet to go to college, so you could be the first"

The exercise itself doesn't lend itself to great scene you get caught up more in the THINGS rather than what's happening between the two people on stage, BUT it really helps your ability to 'yes-and' better. Your yes-ands have reason to it..and they help dish out the POV of each character..rather than getting caught up in extraneous exposition, which does not help the scene.
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