By Darren Held

Great Improvisors Are Taught

Usually when people find out that I teach improv classes, they are intrigued. I mean, sure, I get the occasional confused soul who thinks improv is standup and demands a joke, but usually people are interested in how a person learns improv. There is a broad misconception in the world that good improvisors are born, not taught. It’s the same with art of any kind, really; for some reason, people understand that you have to learn to read, learn to do math, learn to do baseball – but they think that you are either born with the ability to draw, paint, act, sing, dance, improvise, whatever, or you’re forever doomed to a life without that skill.

I’m not disputing that some people seem to be born with natural talent in any given area, whether it’s sports or acting or being a physicist. But people can and do learn to do things they don’t necessarily feel “born” to do. And even if you are born with a gift for drawing or dancing or improvisation, there are still aspects that you need to learn – either in a class, or on your own through trial and error.

Besides overcoming the mindset of “I’m not good at art,” it’s also difficult for many people to expose themselves to others in the way that learning any art requires. Whenever you create anything, it’s coming from you and therefore, it can be very intimidating and scary to put your creation out for the world to see… because if people don’t like what you’ve created, there’s a tendency to think that means they don’t like you. So it takes a lot of courage for people to come to their first improv class, not knowing if people won’t laugh at what they say, or if they’ll laugh at them instead of with them or just what exactly.

The awesome thing about Held2gether (well, one of many awesome things, but my favorite) is that our “improv for life” philosophy means we believe everyone can benefit from the skills that improv instills – we don’t focus exclusively on performers, we don’t require theatrical experience and we don’t even have beginning students do shows. We want people to have fun, get out of their shells, overcome personal obstacles, become more confident and/or less shy, think faster on their feet… and learn some improv while they’re at it.

We create an environment that is safe, encouraging and super fun – while at the same time providing the structure and feedback needed to teach students how to do great improv. So if you think you can’t do improv, I would politely disagree. After all, I learned it…

(BTW, we even offer half-day workshops so you can see if this improv stuff is right for you.)

By Sonnjea Blackwell