Updated: Mar 21, 2019
“Yes and”, the Cardinal Rule of improv, clearly explains the acceptance of an idea with which our scenes/games are built upon. But I’ve come to realize that this simple notion has far more reach in our lives and how we reach our goals.
In 1995 I was asked by a co-worker if I could give him a ride to an improv show after our shift, and he’d get me in for free. At this time, in Pittsburgh, “Friday Nite Improv” was the place for students at Pitt, CMU, Duquesne, et.al. to go for a couple hours every Friday from 11pm-1am and play in a full audience participation show. At this same time, I was just beginning to perform in theater and was absolutely clueless to improv. The explanation was, “It’s like ‘Whose Line’. If you want to play, you raise your hand, and hope the host picks you”. Needless to say, every Friday afterward, until I moved in 1999, I was there. Eventually, I joined the house team, “The Susquehanna Hat Company”, and even became a regular host. And to this day, I still keep in touch with my friends from FNI, even after the show’s 21 year run ended in 2014. Thanks to my co-worker, Steven Werber, I have someone to blame for every bad scene.
Fast forward to 2019, Las Vegas. I’m now part of the “Old Guard” of improv. Trained with Second City in Vegas, performed with multiple troupes at multiple local and Strip venues, hosted my own version of FNI for three years, and even got to coach many of the players here in town. And one thing has stayed consistent, “Yes and”. Not in the obvious improv sense, but in the fact that every player in this form of art has been accepting of me. They are my extended family. Yet I didn’t realize this until just a couple months ago until joining ComedySportz here in Sin City (CSzLV).
After a 5-year hiatus from regular improv performance, I auditioned for the team here, and it struck me that these people are my family. The immediate trust given to me during the audition process and the continued entrust given at practices and during my first couple of matches is inspiring. Here I am, 20 years in the game, yet a rookie with CSzLV, and I am treated with respect and equality. I’m playing with people half my age, or a fraction of my experience, but that’s irrelevant. I’m playing with a group of people that inherently understand “Yes and”, and they don’t realize the true gift they’ve offered; the gift of family.
Improvisers are a unique group. We’re certainly eclectic and with a vast set of skills and talents. And the CSzLV team is no exception. And I’m truly grateful for their acceptance. It took 20 years and thousands of performances for this to `click’, but this old dog has learned something. “Yes and” has new meaning for me. It’s been ingrained in my performances, but I hadn’t realized how much it’s entrenched in my personality, my profession, and my world views. I’m a better actor because of improv, for sure. But more importantly, I’m a better person because of improv.
Thank you to my improv family here and across the globe. Yes, and especially to my brother, Steve. It’s all your fault.
-- written by Glenn Heath
You can catch Glenn continuing to spread the blame around at this Sunday's match. He'll even pour you a bowl of Lucky Charms...or tell Keith Lyle to do it for him, since Keith is on concessions this week. The point is you can have Lucky Charms at our match. Don't blame me for this long tag. You're the one who needed clarification.