The rise of improv and the mainstreaming of ‘yes, and’

When a Press Play producer pitches a story idea that doesn’t make the cut, the staff jokingly says, “yes and.” The phrase, of course, comes from improv. In improv comedy, when someone throws an idea at you, no matter how bad, during a scene, you’re supposed to just go with it say, “yes and.” The fact that this is known outside the world of comedy clubs tells you how mainstream improv has become. The key organization behind that ubiquity is the improv empire known as the Upright Citizens Brigade, which holds classes in New York and LA and attracts tens of thousands of students a year, raking in millions of dollars. UCB has also promoted the idea of improv as self-improvement: something for everyone, not just wannabe actors. But it has also been criticized for a corporate and even cult-like environment.