By Lauren Harper
Your life will get a lot easier starting… now! Well, okay maybe not right THIS second but continue to read on and it’s guaranteed. Pinky swear!
I actually don’t “pinky swear” but usually people who pinky swear mean business, and I mean business.
Ladies and gentlemen, I proudly present the following phrase that will improve all social interactions…
Behold the power of: “Yes, and…”
Have you ever been told something that made you feel confused, defensive or just royally pissed off? Perhaps in some cases, the quick fix you deemed appropriate was to just slap the person?
This could be an everyday occurrence or a once in a lifetime situation depending on who you are and how you react to people. However, if you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, that means you’re in for a treat.
You are fully qualified to use “Yes, and…”
I first discovered the phrase a few months ago when I enrolled in an improvisation class at the world famous Groundlings School in Hollywood. It was during the second class when the teacher announced that we could finally write things down in our notebooks. Class was officially in session. This was super exciting given that our introductory class went over the snooze-rules like “Don’t be late for class,” and “Welcome to The Groundlings!” and “The next month is going to teach…” type of conversations mixed in with a few get-to-know-your-classmates games.
Alright, back to the second class where we finally got to take notes. First things first: Must. Find. Pen. I frantically searched the abyss I call my purse in order to find one…
Let me just interrupt and mention that whenever you DON’T need a pen, it always manages to appear on the ground, in your pocket or pops out when you unzip your purse. When you DO need a pen, of course you never have one. Next, you find your eyes darting across the room targeting “that person” who looks like they always carry an extra writing utensil. This type of person always does.
Luckily, in this case, I finally found a pen in my purse. I took the cap off just in time to write my first set of notes. I didn’t realize at the time that these notes would change the way I perform as an actor. What I also didn’t know was how they would transform the process of how I interact with people off stage as well.
The first rule of improvisation: ALWAYS agree with your scene partner no matter what.
As I wrote this down on a fresh sheet of blindingly white paper, I immediately wanted to ask questions that began with, “Yeah, but wouldn’t it be funnier if…” or “Okay, but what if the person…”
As our teacher went more in-depth with this concept, the class began to see the light.
Regardless of what your scene partner says, you must ALWAYS be in agreement with them. This is the “Yes” part. In order to continue the scene and add dialogue, use the connecting word “and.” This simply helps in adding more information quickly to further develop your scene.
An example of “Yes, and…”
Peter: Joe, you’re such an asshole.
Joe: Yes, and assholes are usually very rich…
If Joe immediately disagreed with Peter an argument would have ensued, making the scene long-winded, boring and eventually not funny.
With the “Yes, and…” technique the scene immediately takes flight.
It takes practice but you can use this phrase in your everyday life. It’s fun, saves time, prevents bloody noses and will make you feel happier and more upbeat!
The first time I used “Yes, and…” outside of the classroom and in a real-life situation was a week after I learned it.
It was around 9:00 p.m. on a Saturday night on Melrose Avenue. I was wearing jeans, a white sweater and knee-high black leather high-heeled boots.
I was meeting a group of friends for dinner before a seeing a show. I didn’t have an umbrella and it was raining lightly. I was already a bit irritated because of this unexpected rain plus I was starving and needed to find an ATM.
As I was waiting for the walk signal, there was a guy waiting right next to me. He was drunk. I really don’t remember what he looked like since I pretended he wasn’t there.
All of a sudden he said something.
He slurred, “I like your boots… they look like… hooker heels.”
Now, the “old me” in that situation would have been offended, maybe cursed him out or stormed off with a bad attitude.
Not this time. Lauren Harper, the Groundlings student, took a deep breath and laughed. Without hesitation, I bit right back with, “Yes, and they’re the best hooker heels on the block!”
That’s all I could think of but it worked.
Still drunk, but impressed, he replied “Cool, I totally dig that.”
The walk signal finally began to blink and across the street I went.
So there ya have it! The power of “Yes, and…”
Of course, a few weeks later I played a hooker in a short film. See the photo for reference.
You better believe I wore my boots.
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About the Author: Lauren Harper is an L.A. woman with East Coast blood. Born in Greenwich, Connecticut, she is an actress and writer residing in the heart of Hollywood, California. Lauren graduated from Penn State University with a B.A. in journalism and a minor in French and Francophone Studies. Fast forward to 2012, she has continued to work, successfully carving a niche for herself in the entertainment industry. Lauren is excited to contribute to Happiness Series with Lights, Camera…Happiness and her interview series, Lights, Camera…Interview. Lauren hopes to further enlighten herself and you with each entry. Find out more about Lauren Harper | Twitter: @TheLaurenHarper | Official Site: http://thelaurenharper.com | e-mail: email@example.com