Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Okay, so one of my favorite actresses (who also happens to be one of my best friends) was in LA recently working with me on THE CYNICS.  We were brainstorming her character (a wise-cracking, recovering alcoholic bride-to-be) within the treatment and she reminded me about my favorite theatre game in the world.  The “YES! And…” Game. 

The improv game "Yes And" follows a vital rule of improvisational theater: Never deny your fellow actor.

So Actor 1 and Actor 2 are on stage and Actor 1 kicks off the improv with:
“I’m so glad we started this toilet paper company together.”

Actor 2 supports and adds to this idea: “Yes!  And I love that we decided to call it ‘ASSWIPES INC.’”

Actor 1: “Yes!  Everytime someone sees me in the street now when they yell, “’Hey ASSWIPE!’  I know they’re talking to me.” 

And so on. 

It keeps a scene going (Yes! And…) it keeps the energy going, (Yes! And…) it keeps the ideas flowing.  (Yes! And…) It makes me happy. 

I mean, really us writers can be so negative.  Heck us people can be so negative.  Imagine the lost potential if Actor 1 had said, “I’m so glad that we started this toilet paper company together” and Actor 2 had responded, “No we didn’t.”  Game over.

I think all writers should practice the “Yes.  And…” game, even if it’s in their own heads – especially when breaking a story.  It’s perfect for comedy because it helps you top the top. Let’s imagine… your lead character is in an interview with his zipper down (YES!  And…) He shakes his hips to emphasize that how excited he is about the job.  (Yes!  And…) His Superman underoos peek out!

I would imagine that it would work for drama or horror – There’s a killer on the loose. (Yes! And…) She’s is a little girl. (Yes!  And…) She’s a dead little zombie girl!  (Yes! And…) She likes to eat her victims!  See how fun this can be?

Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig playing the
"YES! And..." Game in A Christmas Carol
I propose that this holiday season, everyone tries to play the “Yes! And…” game at least once.  When your wife recommends that you wake up at 5 am to open toys with the kids, try shouting with glee, “Yes! And I’ll put on my Star Wars Christmas in the Stars Christmas record!”  Perhaps she’ll catch the spirit and reward your positivity and energy with her own resounding “Yes!  And I’ll spike our coffees!”

Happy Holidays from THE LAKE EFFECT family to yours.

YES!  And… See you in 2011! 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

#14 Baby Needs a New Pair of Shoes

Luna teeny tiny baby booties need replacin'.
It's time to make some moolah.
So, as I may have mentioned, The Lake Effect is looking for a sales agent. In our hot pursuit, I had to get a screener to a company in Santa Monica on Friday.  With no babysitter and no runner, I loaded Luna up and hit the road.  

I buzzed the office from the street and let Luna press the button for the elevator.  I prepared myself for the confused looks from the people working the front desk.  Babies and work places just don’t go together, it seems. I didn't anticipate that the front office of this company would have glass walls, so that when I walked in with Luna on my hip, we had a nice little audience.  

Now, the term “deer in headlights,” is overused... but I would argue it's for good reason – we shot THE LAKE EFFECT in Michigan, where I witnessed a deer in headlights for the first time and they really do just stand there, staring at your approaching headlights with this wide eyed gaze... anyway, in the spirit of Michigan I think it’s appropriate to use the overused metaphor here.   The office workers just gaped at us like deer in headlights.  (A side note to this side note, when I arrived in South Haven after a three hour car ride from Detroit, I commented on the high number of dead deer on the highway.  Our intern Liz, smiled and said, “Oh, those are our welcome signs.”  How I miss our smart-mouthed Michigan interns.  Especially when I have to be my own runner.)  

Right, so I walk into the office with Luna on my hip and the whole office just stops and stares at us like (all together now) deer in headlights. 

I smile and hand the manila envelope over to the guy at the front desk.  “Hi, I have a drop off for Joe Sales Agent.”


I wonder if they think I'm a runner and doing some sort of take the kid to work day.  I check in with Luna, who is returning the office workers’ wide eyed stares. “Say buh-bye.”


And then the stunned deers’ faces thaw out into awed smiles.  They are still cooing, give cutesy waves as we leave.  

I let Luna walk down the hallway holding my finger and there's just something about how it's all working out that makes me feel so peaceful.  Like whatever this sales agent says or whatever happens with the movie is exactly what should happen.  

After promising Luna that she can press the elevator button, I say, “You know what, Luna?  This right here is one of my very best moments ever.”