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Yes, And…

“To me YES, AND means don’t be afraid to contribute. Always make sure you’re adding something to the discussion. Your initiations are worthwhile.” 

- Tina Fey

The picture above was taken Friday night at the DeMaat Theater, a stage at the Second City. Does it look like I was having fun? Hopefully so, because I was having a blast!

Since January I’ve been taking improv classes, as a way to get out of my own head and try something different. It has been incredible. I have the honor of goofing off for 3 hours every Tuesday night with 14 talented, genuine, amazing people who are now dear friends. This past term, our teacher Jay was one of the most supportive and fun people I’ve ever met. He taught us that mistakes are not mistakes, but “happy accidents” and “gifts”. And about support. That no matter what, my job when I’m out there is to make my scene partner(s) look the best they can.

One of the best ways to do this is to always, unconditionally say yes. I have a gopher on my head? Heck yes, I do. And it gives a great scalp massage. Very soothing.

That’s the other part – and. When you say yes, you not only agree, but you add to the idea and create synergy with your partner. It’s a philosophy that I’ll take with me through the rest of my life. And it’s fun! Not fighting about your idea or mine, but embracing whatever comes and exploring where it goes.

So, Friday was the culmination of our 3rd term, level C. It was a 20 minute demonstration where we played a few improv games and invited friends and family to watch. The thought of being on stage it front of a room full of people was nerve-wracking, but once I stepped on stage it was nothing but joy. Watching my friends play and be brilliant was a great time. I was in the last group and was rearing to go. My team went and did a nice job (you can check out the video below, if you’re so inclined). We got some laughs and had a lot of fun. It went by so fast, it seemed like the blink of an eye. Afterwards, everyone was very complimentary and super nice.

But the actual performance wasn’t the best part of the night. We met an hour before to warm up. This “warm up” actually turned out to be one of the most positive experiences of my life. We didn’t play any games or goof off. What Jay had us do was stand in a circle. Then, one person entered the circle and stood in front of each of the others on the outside, receiving honest feedback on how good they are. Having a group of people who you respect and care about tell you just how great they think you are – genuinely, without sarcasm or any kind of agenda – is…well, it’s actually pretty hard to put into words how it made me feel. Warm, maybe. Happy, definitely. And it was such a pleasure to get to compliment everyone else. It’s not often you get to be that open and honest with others.

I can’t wait to continue on and complete the final two terms of improv at the Second City. There are a few folks in my class that may be coming to a stage near you soon!

Make it a great week all!

  • Looks like so much fun! Congrats on branching out!


    June 26, 2012

  • Thank you Tracy! It was awesome.


    June 26, 2012

  • First off. Great job. That does appear both nerve-wracking and fun at the same time and I can completely understand why you took the class. Awesome!

    When you mentioned about the warm up and the circle of honor it brought back some good memories of mine in a similar situation. When I was a senior in high school we had a retreat that seniors had to go on. The entire class couldn’t go at once so it was a crap shoot as to who you got to go with. In my case, only one of my friends at the time was with me and they had other friends with them so I was on my own and had to make do. What I didn’t realize at first was how other people that I didn’t necessarily “hang with” actually respected me and this knowledge came about through 2 days of similar types of exercises. Of course at the end of the retreat we all had to stand up front and let everyone tell us what they respect or like most about us and this was an incredible feeling. I became close with all of the people on that retreat and, in some cases, better friends with them than even some of my best friends throughout high school. Thanks for sharing!

    The Mr

    June 26, 2012

  • So cool, Mr! It’s amazing when we let people inside our protective walls how great it can feel and what a strong connection it makes! Thank you!!!


    June 26, 2012

  • What an amazing thing! You are so great in the video and it looks like a lot of fun. It takes insane courage to get up and do that and you have it my friend!

  • Thanks Mrs! I think you have quite a bit of courage yourself – seeing your journey helps to inspire mine :)


    June 26, 2012

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