There’s a very eclectic blog out there. Avish Parashar’s Funny Stuff Blog. Mr. Parashar writes about many things related to the business world, but he has a strong improv background and makes his living training businesses to use improv comedy ideas to communicate more effectively.
Parashar recently came out with a book, Say ‘Yes, And!’, which is based on the premise that everything you have in your life that is positive is based on saying “Yes, and…” rather than “Yes, but.”
The idea of saying, “Yes, And” instead of “yes, but,” is very near and dear to my heart, because as I look back on my life I can say, without exaggeration, that everything I have right now came from saying, “Yes, And.” And I almost missed out by being attached to saying “yes, but”…
My entire life now revolves around improv comedy. I have performed it for over twenty years. I ran my own group for seven years. I have a speaking and training business that uses improv comedy ideas to enable organizations to be more creative and communicate more effectively.
Would it surprise you to know that I got dragged into improv comedy kicking and screaming?
It’s true. I “yes, butted” the heck out of improv comedy before I finally tried it. (What can I say? I can be a little dense).
Growing up, I had acted in all of my high school’s theater productions. When I went off to college I decided not to get involved in theater because I knew what a time drain it was, and I wanted to “focus on my studies.” (my parents would be so proud. They probably are now saying, “What the heck happened??”) So, at college, I did not audition for or get involved in any performing arts groups.
After hanging out with my new college friends, one of them – his name is Matt, and he will never let me forget this story – suggested I try out for the university’s improv troupe.
“Improv?” I said. “I don’t do improv. I’ve always done scripted work. I don’t think my humor would translate to improv.”
Yes, that was me saying, “yes, but I don’t think I’d be any good at it.” Crazy.
What’s truly ridiculous about my “yes, but” is that I had never even seen the improv group perform! I didn’t really know what improv comedy was, but I knew it wasn’t right for me. Like I said, I can be dense.
Matt, however, was an annoyingly persistent guy (thank goodness for that). He kept suggesting it to me, and every time he did, I would brush him off with a “no,” or a resounding, “yes, but.”
Finally, in a stroke of either sheer absurdity or sheer brilliance, he maneuvered me into going to see a show. It was almost like a romantic comedy; his friend was coming into town for a weekend, but Matt was busy Saturday night. Matt asked if I could hang with his friend so he wouldn’t be bored. Being a good guy, I said, “sure,” after which Matt slyly mentioned that the improv group happened to be having a show that night and we should go see it. Sneaky bastard…
We went to see the improv show, and within just a few minutes, I was hooked! I loved it, and really wanted to give it a try. When they held auditions a month later I tried out, got in, and improv has been a part of my life ever since.
To say that my life would be different if I had not finally said, “Yes, And” to auditioning for that improv group would be a gross understatement. I cannot imagine what my life would be like. In truth, I don’t even want to imagine what my life would be like.
All because I finally stopped saying “yes, but” and said, “Yes, And.”
Everything YOU Have is a Result of Saying “Yes, And” I am not trying to brag when I say that everything I have came from saying, “Yes, And.” If you think about it, everything you have is a result of saying, “Yes, And” too.
Try this exercise: Take a piece of paper and draw a line vertically down the middle of it. On the left side, write down everything you have accomplished, everything you are good at, and everything you are proud of. On the right side, right down everything you wish you had done, everything you would like to be better at, and everything you consider a “failure.”
Got your lists done? Good.
If you look at the left side of the page, you’ll see that everything there came about because you said, “Yes, And.” The right side of the page, the side of limitations, came about (or didn’t come about) because you said, “yes, but.”
You’ve already learned this lesson. Now it’s time to apply it.
Yours Truly will be teaching “Networking Tricks for Actors” at PATStudio (6925 Willow Street, NW, 1st Floor, Washington, DC 20012) on Monday evenings from 7:45 – 8:45pm March 19 & 26, and April 2, 9 & 16. The workshop is $25 a night. Each workshop is self-contained.
Here is a testimonial:
I just want to thank you, and let you know that your networking class was very informative. I am already starting to think like a celebrity, working on business cards and trusting myself, you call it, Speed of Implementation. Hope to see you in more workshops. Thanks again
John Pallotta teaches two classes Monday afternoons and evenings, from 4:30 to 6:30 and 6:30 to 9pm respectively at The Source Theatre (1835 14th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20009). Bringing you over 30 years experience on “The Craft of Acting”. To get in this special class, which I attend, please text or call 646.619.7777 and register today at www.dcacting.com
John Pallotta Studio
Yours Truly has launched a podcast! It’s called Inside Acting! Listen here!
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