Fun times! One of my bigger take-aways was "Yes-and," but as I was on my way home I had a question about that -- who are we saying "yes-and" to? The character, or the actor?
I got the question by putting together our "yes-and" work with the tempo/excitement work you had us do (with the walking around as different characters trying to show different levels of excitement.)
We offer our scene-mates different things besides verbal cues, such as different tempo, different physicality, etc. That being said, we should consider saying "yes-and" in more ways than just verbal, right?
An example I came up with to counter the "yes-and," approach was:
Scene: Robbery at a bank
Me: Bank Teller
Other Person: Robber
Robber: *raises gun* "Give me the money!"
Teller: "Yes, fine, okay, I'll give you the money -- and after let's go out and get ice cream!"
Pretty boring scene right? Sure, it's sort of very very literal, but I think it illustrates the point!
On second thought I think my take-away was that we need to "yes-and" more than just what the character was suggesting, and kinda take it a step past that. Yes-and the actor!
That's a really interesting point that we should "yes and" to the actor and the character in many ways. Affirm the situation completely, not just vocally. Be afraid of the robber with the gun with your face and body, not just your words.
But if you watched the homework video, it was neat that they stressed the teamwork aspect of "yes and" so it's probably fundamentally affirming the actor, but it's portrayed through playing it through the character.
Your question about yes-and'ing is a good one. And I would say you hit the nail on the head:
You want to yes, and the character, your partner, and, ultimately, the idea (or what we call the "game of the scene"). As you grow as an improviser, you will learn that saying "yes, and" doesn't always entail just saying the words or mirroring the character. Sometimes saying "yes, and" to the game of the scene means that you are agreeing to add a detail, emotion, or consequence to a scene.
The example that you provided is likely a boring scene NOT because yes, and led to the end of the scene quickly, but because it's a transaction scene (like the example of someone walking in to buy something at mcdonalds). It's problematic because if the banker were to say no, the only real options are to have the robber start bartering with them. There is no shared history and so its difficult to make it a rich scene. A better option would be to have the scene start with two robbers - what is their history? Is one an incompetent robber? How much more fun that scene would be if it were two robbers talking about how unprepared they are for the robbery....
These are my notes from Week 1. I'm posting this partly to make sure that I have things straight in my mind, but also for Manny, who joined us in Week 2. Please feel free to add/change as needed.
Some General Ideas:
Support fearlessly (support your partner, or the scene).
Find funny fast (but we do *not* need to be funny in 101).
Funny comes from supporting people.
Give energy and take energy.
Some Rules (for 101, at least):
LISTEN to you partner (actively listen, don't be distracted by what you might say next).
NO QUESTIONS (make a statement, don't ask a question)
START ON THE SAME PAGE (you already know the other person, you are not strangers)
KEEP SCENES POSITIVE (avoid conflicts between scene partners)
AGREE (yes, and...)
"Yes, and..." can elicit any of these three developments:
- Yes, and [a DETAIL about what your partner said]
- Yes, and [and EMOTION that you feel about what your partner said].
- Yes, and [a CONSEQUENCE of what your partner said]
And what I mostly took away from the Week 2 class was that a scene can benefit from the addition of a strong emotion. This makes a scene more entertaining and potentially funnier.