Yes, And

ladies laughing

If you live in St. Augustine and you haven’t met Amy Angelilli yet, you probably will soon. I think she’s on a mission to meet and engage absolutely everyone here.

Amy is a new staff person in the education department at the Limelight Theater. She teaches improvisation. If you’re familiar with comedy improv such as in the TV show “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?” you know the hilarity that ensues when people extemporaneously make stuff up. It’s unscripted, outrageous, creative fun.

Some of Amy’s students are really interested in theater and performing comedy. But Amy has tapped into something so authentic and positive, even non-theater people want to meet and be engaged with her, too. People from all walks of life are signing up for her more casual workshops, or “hang-outs,” where she presents light-hearted, easy activities designed to help folks simply be spontaneous and playful. She literally refers to it as recess for adults.

And perhaps the biggest benefit, aside from the fact that it’s tons of fun, is that it encourages participants to be completely, wholeheartedly, and genuinely in the current moment. She even refers to it as “mindful improv.” What a great way to let go!

For example, you have to let go of control. I don’t think there are very many rules in improv, but there’s one important one: you must allow things to unfold. And the way you do that is by saying “yes” to whatever crazy suggestion(s) the people around you put forth. If anyone says “no,” it simply shuts down the activity. You cannot move forward with a “no.” And it’s really un-funny.

What Amy discovered when she started studying improv—and what she’s so brilliant at sharing with virtually everyone she comes into contact with—is that saying “yes” and going with the flow opens a direct line to our authentic, playful, creative, child-like selves—and not just in classes.

In a workshop, Amy creates a safe place for people to experiment and be vulnerable. Participants quickly see how joyful it can be to let their inner child out to play. And the unplanned things that happen by simply allowing them to, are humorous and very, very positive.

That’s because “yes” is a positive communication tool. Even more powerful is saying “yes, and.” Amy came to our Rotary club meeting last week and led an exercise that took less that five minutes, and we quickly saw for ourselves the beauty and the impact of positive communication.

The activity had four parts. In each one, the small group sitting at each table brainstormed for one minute about things we could do together during the upcoming weekend. For the first round, whenever anyone suggested anything, our response had to be “no.” Just “no.” It felt yucky to have your ideas shot down, and also to shoot down everyone else’s good ideas.

For the second minute, as we suggested things to do for the weekend, the responses had to be “yes, but…” For example, “We could go fishing!” “Yes, but it’s supposed to rain this weekend.” This also did not feel good. You kinda got your hopes up thinking you were getting a “yes,” but ultimately you were getting a negative response.

The third time, we simply responded to every idea with “yes.” No elaboration, just “yes!” This felt better, but kind of silly. There was no depth, there was no way to build on an idea or take it a step closer to actually happening. It was a positive response, but it didn’t lead anywhere.

For the fourth and final minute, we responded with “yes, and… .” This felt terrific! “We could go fishing.” “Yes, and maybe Todd could take us out on his boat!” “Yes! And afterwards, we could have some time at the beach!” “Yes, and we could all bring some food and drinks to share!”

During this last round, everyone—at every table—got louder and more animated. You could actually feel the energy in the room shifting into a more positive atmosphere. Everyone was laughing and smiling. Everyone agreed that it felt much better to say yes, and… It was fun!

So Amy encouraged us to continue saying “yes, and” in our daily lives, and see if we could have a positive impact in virtually any situation. Just as in comedy improv, “yes and” opens the door to possibility.

Do you think you could do that? Let’s do it! Let’s say yes… and see what happens!!

Here are links to more articles about “Yes, And”—one written by Amy and one by Scott McDowell. Enjoy, and let me know what happens when you allow for positive communication and spontaneous fun!

How Improv Made Me a Star on Life’s Stage. ~ Amy Angelilli

For more on Amy and her classes and retreats, here’s a link to her website:

Category : Blog Posted on June 22, 2016

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