Maya Rudolph Nailed Tulane Speech, But Will 'Yes, And' Work for Parents?

by Hollee Actman Becker
Originally Published: 

Maya Rudolph’s commencement address at Tulane yesterday pretty much rocked. There was the on-point imitation of Oprah —and you get a diploma—the Beyoncé-ish twist on the national anthem, and most importantly, the takeaway that the key to getting what you want out of life is using the phrase “Yes, and” instead of “No.”

“In improvisation there is one hard and fast rule, and that rule is known as ‘Yes, and'” said Rudolph. “If I must give any of you advice, it would be this: Say ‘Yes.’ Say ‘Yes, and’ and create your own destiny … And put away your damn iPhone once in a while.”

Sage advice. Because “Yes, and” is basically the answer to every single question during those first few years after college. Do you want to share an apartment in the city? Yes, and I call the biggest bedroom. Wanna grab a drink after work? Yes, and make mine a double. Should I have an affair with my boss? Yes, and now start looking for a new job.

See what I mean? Here’s what I’m wondering, though: Does the “Yes, and” statement still apply once you settle down and have kids?

Let’s take it for a test drive.

1. It’s a Sunday night at 7 p.m. You just spent the entire day at the beach with your kids building sandcastles, jumping waves and scarfing hot dogs. You’re finally home, showered and ready to settle in for the night when your 9-year-old comes padding into the bedroom. “Mommy, can we go to Dairy Queen?” Your normal response would be something along the lines of “No freaking way.” But since it’s technically still the weekend and nothing you eat now counts anyway, you say this instead: “Yes, and order me a large Brownie Batter Blizzard.” Works for me.

2. Your 16-year-old just got his license and now he wants to borrow your car. “Mom, can I have your keys? Andrew’s having some people over to study.” And by study you know he means watch 22 Jump Street in the basement with a bunch of girls. Your knee-jerk reaction is “nice try.” But instead you say: “Yes, and please stop at the food store on your way home to get some milk and eggs.” Score!

3. It’s girls’ night, and you’re out to dinner with a bunch of moms from your kids’ school when a group of guys at the bar sends over a round of shots. You’re about to shake your head no and send them back, mumbling something about it being a school night, but instead you throw one back, slam the empty shot glass on the table, and yell “Yes, and we’ll have another round … on them!”

I don’t know about you guys but I’m thinking this “Yes, and” thing is a keeper.

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