Yes, yes and yes again - a.k.a. The Yes Experiment (road testing Yes, Man)

Yes. Yes. Yes. In a world convoluted by incessant questioning and the complications that arise from way too many choices (does Coles really need to stock 14 versions of vanilla ice-cream?) answering a simple “yes” to everything irrespective of the question and its consequences has a beautiful, rudimentary appeal, especially to those like me who are tired of the constant badgering. No, we don’t have Fly Buys, we’re not interested in a two-for-five-dollars Red Bull combo, we don’t want to talk about reducing our energy bills and we absolutely do not want fries with that.

Answering yes to everything is not an intellectually demanding exercise, but Jim Carrey and co. make a big deal of it in Yes, Man, a flimsy, empty-headed Hollywood comedy/morality fable about a bank loan analyst who, exasperated by the rigors of day-to-day, hustle bustle, can’t-do-it-call-back-later corporate life, joins a cult of people with a fetish for saying “yes.” No, the film doesn’t make any sense at all, and by that I mean yes – it’s nonsense, but the story does present one intriguing antidote to the poisons of modern decision-making. Liar Liar, it’s smarter, slicker, funnier cousin, was about something very difficult: telling the truth. But doing this yes thing is surely a cinch, right? To road test just how easy it is to answer “yes” to everything I decided to put the theory to test. One day. 24 hours. Can do. Absolutely. Mmm-hmmm. In other words: yes.

My morning gets off to an uneventful start as I stand in the kitchen in tartan boxer shorts and a black wife-beater, sipping instant coffee and rueing my budgetary decision not to say “yes” to a latté machine at the Boxing Day sales. My housemate emerges from the funk of his bedroom and kindly asks if I want to have the first shower, to which I response with an over zealous “yes!” – but it’s too early in the day for that sort of enthusiasm, so he reacts like a bucket of ice cold water just hit him on the face and promptly ushers himself back to bed. As I soap and shampoo I feel the hot water start to run out, which makes me feel a shade guilty considering it’s my second shower this morning – but every war has its casualties and the battle of Hollywood high concepts versus the general populace is no exception.

I ask myself if I want another coffee and I say yes to Mr Moccona one more time and just as I walk out the door I hear shrieks coming from the bathroom, my housemate discovering the ice cold water for real. Walking to the supermarket, I get intercepted by a man in a tatty Hawaiian shirt, incongruously matched with camouflage-patterned cargo pants and white sneakers splattered with brown paint. He says “‘scuse me buddy, do ya have a spare dollar or two?”

“Yes,” I reply cautiously, recalling the scene in Yes, Man when a bum takes advantage of Carrey’s new found positivity by scoring a lift, using his mobile and taking his money. I open my wallet to discover I only have a tenner. “I don’t have any change,” I say. “If I give you a ten dollar note could you give me eight back?” He says yes but asks me if he could give back seven instead; I say yes, then he asks if he could give six; I say yes to six and then yes to five; then I hand over the ten dollar note and he turns and runs away, bolting down the footpath with the tails of his torn Hawaiian shirt flapping in the breeze behind him.

The check-out chick at the supermarket asks “do you have fly buys?” and, nervously anticipating what lay past the edge of conversational existence - the great unknown for an extremely infrequent flyer like me - I say yes (for those who haven’t crossed this threshold, let me tell you right now: it changes a man). After further questioning I claim I misheard her, mumbling something about being deaf in one ear and, incredibly, she hears me, asks if I wear a hearing aid and I say “yes” and then carefully walk towards the exit, taking precautions not to let her catch a glimpse of the back of my head. I bump into a security guard, who glares at me menacingly.

I spend the remainder of the day in a blur of positivity and can-do-ness.

I have a conversation with a telemarketer and say yes to a better deal for my mobile phone service provider.

I say yes to a SPAM email asking whether I'm interested in recovering the vast fortunate apparently left by a distant relative who died on the tax-free Island of Seychelles.

I say yes to participating in a pump aerobics class with my mum.

I'm too afraid to go out in the evening – envisioning a safer night spent curled in a ball of fear on the couch - so I call an old pal and have a long yak about my day and this 'ere crazy experiment. Had it made life any easier? Well no, it hadn’t, and (especially in lieu of the pump class) let me tell you right now that life is more intense when you give the thumbs-up to everything. You don’t have to deal with the gripes that come with knocking people back, sure, but that's not adequate compensation. I tell my friend about the shower, the ten dollar thief, the supermarket, the Island of Seychelles. The bastard responds by asking me if he can borrow 50 bucks. I say yes. Then conversation drifts back to Yes, Man – remember, that Hollywood movie starring the elastic-faced semi-washed up comedian? - and my buddy says “I can’t remember when Jim Carrey stopped being funny. I was thinking about seeing that movie last weekend but nah, thought it looked a bit crap. But maybe I was wrong. Is it funny? Was is it any good?”

I pause for a moment. It'd been a long day. This low-brained high concept movie and the experiment that followed it had successfully done my head in. The response I give – a two letter word I have come to appreciate as one of the most unfailingly beautiful creations in the English language - marks the end of my day as a yes man.


  1. Sounds like an entertaining day! More entertaining, perhaps, than the original film! I think from now on you should sweed your road-tests - I'd pay good money to see you do a pump class! By the way, can I borrow a grand?

  2. SP can come to pump class Wed. 5.30 also. You can supply details. Who gets the money?


  3. See you at 5.30 Pump at Goodlife Love Ma