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Can comedy writers properly explain yes and-ing to me?

My (Very) basic understanding of the concept, there are two versions of it.

Version A: Continue the bit, that the previous person started, no matter the cost. (even if by the end, the bit barely resembles what it started with)
and
Version B: Not only continue, but expand on the bit, by adding your own material to it, without altering said bit.

I watch a couple of youtubers who do the first one quite well. But I feel like there's a bit more nuance to actually doing this comedy technique 'correctly' if that makes sense?
 

Devor

Fiery Keeper of the Hat
Moderator
So, "Yes, and..." is usually about improvisational comedy. When your scene partner says something dumb or outrageous, you don't argue or try to impose your better idea. You go with it, and add your own take to it. If you pull up old episodes of Whose Line is It Anyways, and look for some of the longer scenes, you can see how it plays out. It's all about having the next idea right away, not about clinging to the one you maybe had planned. You might have to let lots of good ideas go by the wayside in order to be flexible and stay in the moment.

It's also suggested as a good mindset for a lot for D&D campaigns and other TTRPG groups, since they also end up with a lot of improv as people roleplay their characters. If someone says to you "Hey remember that time....." or "let's hide the paladin's sword...." then you play along with the bit, and add something to it, instead of ignoring it. That might look like, "Yes, we can hide it in that bush, make up some illusionary monsters, and then scream like we're all going to die if he can't find his sword!" or maybe it's, "I can't let you steal an ally's sword.... according to the traditions of my people, I now have to challenge you to a duel of bhakamat for even suggesting we betray a comrade..."

Finally, "yes, and...." is a brilliant brainstorming technique. Instead of wondering if I should make this side character more of a druid or a thief or a barbarian, you get better ideas if you combine all of those ideas (a druid? yes, AND a barbarian, yes, AND a rogue), resulting in a tarzan-like character with a giant axe who uses magic to ensnare caravans which he robs as a way to deter the city from developing into the forest. That combined idea makes a better more interesting starting point, and then as the idea takes shape, you cut the elements of druid, barbarian, or rogue that no longer fit your character. But starting with "yes, and...." will take your ideas much further than wasting time trying to debate your options will.
 
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pmmg

Myth Weaver
My (Very) basic understanding of the concept, there are two versions of it.

Version A: Continue the bit, that the previous person started, no matter the cost. (even if by the end, the bit barely resembles what it started with)
and
Version B: Not only continue, but expand on the bit, by adding your own material to it, without altering said bit.

I watch a couple of youtubers who do the first one quite well. But I feel like there's a bit more nuance to actually doing this comedy technique 'correctly' if that makes sense?

Sounds like something i might see on whose line?

Not sure its value but it could get absurd fast.
 

Queshire

Istar
I'm mostly familiar with the version from TTRPGs personally. In my opinion it's more about building off of what came before instead of necessarily building up to absurd heights.

I had the lost kingdom of Gard. My players reached the artifact that they could use to return the kingdom back to reality. I intended for the players to simply return the kingdom back to reality. The previous Queen would come back and we'd move onto the next arc. Well, the players did return the kingdom back to reality, but one of the players messed with the artifact so that when the kingdom returned their character would be its king and as far as everyone is concerned he was always the king. (Time magic is fun like that.)

Now to be clear, that player asked me if he could do that and I gave him my permission, but it did completely upend my plans for the Queen and other characters I had associated with that kingdom.

I ended up pivoting the Queen into a wandering swordsman type of character. Without her kingdom she was forced to take a look at what she truly desired and came to the realization that, hey, running a country is a pretty stressful job! It's a level of character development that wouldn't have occured if I didn't go, "yes, and..." to that player's idea to steal the kingdom.
 

EmrichNorr

Dreamer
Yes, that technique is an improv technique, and doesn't have to be funny.
Like Queshire just said, it's about building a world.
It's important that all the participants can evolve in this world with a minimum amount of harmony, and it also helps create the story.
I did improv a few times with amateurs who didn't know that basic concept.
It felt bad, like someone was cutting off something in my mind.

for example, in an improv about a murder, I said something like: "I called the cleaning crew and they removed the body last night"

Someone respecting the concept replied: "Oh good. We'll be able to move in today."

Someone else, not respecting it, said: "No, I came in early this morning and hacked the body to pieces and buried it in the garden."

It's just rude when you don't respect it.
As for RPG, I always give the DM or GM the last word.
 

pmmg

Myth Weaver
I dont know...this may have value. I feel its not something I would use.

The OP'er is asking for comedy writers, so I would assume a comedy aspect is requested in the answers. That not my thing, so...
 

Queshire

Istar
I mean.... if you're not working with others then naturally you're not going to get as much use out of it. Still, a good grounding in improv can be useful to get yourself out of a corner if you end up writing yourself into one.
 

pmmg

Myth Weaver
I mean.... if you're not working with others then naturally you're not going to get as much use out of it. Still, a good grounding in improv can be useful to get yourself out of a corner if you end up writing yourself into one.

Working with others is also not my thing....

But I am quite capable at improv ;)

And now I will take a cue from my acting days, and exit, stage left.
🏃‍♂️💨
 
I dont know...this may have value. I feel its not something I would use.
I don't do improv or write comedy, but reflecting on my writing, it does play some role in it.

When writing, small, random things I added just for some flavor sometimes jump out at me. I once had a character, after making a harrowing escape, make a remark about how she hoped her mother would be proud of what she'd just managed. It was a nice enough line. However, after writing it, I realized it could very well be part of her character and her motivation. That one line turned into a whole plot arc where she'd inherited her mother's ship and struggled to live up to her mother's reputation and what she thought her mother would do in situations. It was a Yes and moment.

I also had the reverse happen. During the editing of my current WiP, I needed the protagonist to prove his identity early on in the novel. During the editing, I changed the method to where he has a signet ring that proves who he is and that he's a noble. It worked and made the scene better by giving the characters present a more clear motivation. However, I didn't "yes and" this. So later in the story, when a different argument over his identity came up, I had beta readers question "Why doesn't he just show his ring????" By not doing this, the character looked more dumb than I intented him, and it left the readers frustrated.
 

Demesnedenoir

Myth Weaver
I see these things in movies and TV shows all the friggin' time and it drives me nuts. Sometimes there are obvious reasons not to tell somebody something, but more often than not, it's a cheap drama/comedy gimmick. It works in drama and comedy, but it gets overdone fast. It's sort of the equivalent of the horror movie thing: Why the HELL are you going into that dark basement where twelve people were just murdered?!

I try hard to avoid this. It's way better to have characters share—unless there is a good reason not to—and brew conflict from that.

I don't do improv or write comedy, but reflecting on my writing, it does play some role in it.

When writing, small, random things I added just for some flavor sometimes jump out at me. I once had a character, after making a harrowing escape, make a remark about how she hoped her mother would be proud of what she'd just managed. It was a nice enough line. However, after writing it, I realized it could very well be part of her character and her motivation. That one line turned into a whole plot arc where she'd inherited her mother's ship and struggled to live up to her mother's reputation and what she thought her mother would do in situations. It was a Yes and moment.

I also had the reverse happen. During the editing of my current WiP, I needed the protagonist to prove his identity early on in the novel. During the editing, I changed the method to where he has a signet ring that proves who he is and that he's a noble. It worked and made the scene better by giving the characters present a more clear motivation. However, I didn't "yes and" this. So later in the story, when a different argument over his identity came up, I had beta readers question "Why doesn't he just show his ring????" By not doing this, the character looked more dumb than I intented him, and it left the readers frustrated.
 

pmmg

Myth Weaver
That is one of my pet peeves in movies. If the story is only having stress because someone wont say something they know, it drives me nuts as well. And that whole, 'trust me, I've got a plan' does not fly with me either. How about you tell me the plan.

Dude saying, "Whatever you do, dont open that door," is not as effective as "Don't open that door, I've trapped the monster on the other side." Leaving out that detail just so they open the door anyway never wins me over.
 

A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
Leadership
The single most important thing to remember here - and pretty much the only thing - is that Comedy is just Tragedy...

...with timing.
 
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