By Darren Held

I Invented Botox. Yes, I Did.

You meet the most interesting (and useful) people doing improv comedy. Maybe you might think that people take improv classes because they have boring lives and need excitement, but that only describes me. The rest of the people who take Held2gether improv classes are fascinating.

I can tell you don’t believe me, so I’m going to prove it. Last night I spent the evening with a federal probation officer, the inventor of botox, a lady who knows all of the geography of the world, a world-renowned chef and the guy who makes Sig Alerts. These aren’t improv characters, either. Well, there was a case of art imitating life with the probation officer, but these are the real personas of the level 2 students.

Right. You’re thinking, “Well, heck, I just sit at a desk and send personal emails and read blogs at work. I can’t compete with the woman who makes it possible for Real Housewives to exist.” Welcome to my world. But the beauty of improv is, no one needs to know how boring you are! My classmates think I’m a world-famous neurosurgeon who does improv to keep my nerves steady so I don’t botch (another) surgery.

Okay, okay. If I’m lying about the surgeon thing, I suppose it’s possible the others aren’t quite what they claim either. But they sure make up more interesting lies than the rest of the people I know!

So you might as well sign up for a class – you’ll have a little fun, you’ll meet interesting people and besides… you never know when you’re going to need an in with the justice system.

Held2gether.com has all the info on how you, too, can become a pathological liar brilliant improvisor.

By Darren Held

Improv Comedy for Commitment-phobes

You know, six weeks really is NOT a long time in the scheme of life. It’s maybe a third of a football season. Heck, it’s only like, 1/1000th of a baseball season. And we know plenty of you who watch every game of every sport. So we know you can commit if you really want to.

But it’s not our place to judge. And maybe six weeks of improv classes just sounds too daunting. Or maybe some of the classes interfere with the aforementioned athletic events that you cannot possibly miss. We understand. That’s why we offer a one-day alternative. See, we are nothing if not thoughtful.

Coming up February 20th (that’s a Sunday, but don’t panic – it’s a couple weeks after the Super Bowl), Held2gether is offering a one-day Intro to Improv Comedy Bootcamp. For 40 bucks, you get all the fun of improv, with none of the long-term relationship hassles. No one to ask you if their dress makes their ass look fat. No weird guy stalking you. No sharing the remote. Just four hours of pure, unadulterated improv comedy.

Held2gether.com has all the details. Space is limited, so hurry!

By Darren Held

Held2gether + Hot Java = Last Laugh Saturday!

Wow, it’s been a long time. We haven’t done an improv comedy show at Hot Java since last October! That’s, like, several entire months ago. So you can probably imagine how excited we are to perform there tonight! But just in case you can’t quite imagine our level of enthusiasm, we’ll tell you.

We ironed our clothes. Took showers. Used product in our hair.

We practiced the alphabet. Rehearsed some games. Reminded ourselves that musicals typically contain, um, music.

We put up posters. Invited our friends. Lined up a TV news crew.

Oh, right. We have a crew coming to film a segment about us tonight! They’re doing a show about Long Beach, and we are being featured as one of the cool things there are to do in the LBC. How friggin’ awesome is that? So come out, drink coffee, laugh your ass off and say “Hi Mom!” when the camera pans past you. The show is FREE! Held2gether Presents Last Laugh Saturday!

By Darren Held

Held2gether Loves The O.C.!

No, really. We totally do. We’re not the kind of people who make snarky comments about the “Orange Curtain” or the dearth of hipness south of Seal Beach. We think Orange County is friendly, fun and full of really cool people.

We even know a lot of those cool people. But we’d really like to meet a few more. So if you’re one of the cool Orange Countians we already know, could you introduce us to a few of your friends? We know there are some folks who would love to take improv classes with us, and the drive is so easy. I mean, I’m going to lunch in Tustin today (of my own free will), and it’s only going to take about 20 minutes to drive there. It takes that long to get from Irvine to South Coast Plaza, for Pete’s sake. So it’s not a big journey to come up to El Dorado Park once a week for some fun improv.

Better yet, if you or one of your hip OC friends has a business, why not give us a call for some in-house improv training? Our games and exercises build a sense of teamwork, boost morale and give your employees skills for making sales, getting along better with each other or, at the very least, coming up with more creative excuses when they call in sick. And we have a special going on through the end of January! Mention this blog post and get a 2-hour workshop for up to 10 people for $150 (regularly $350)! But hurry – You must call to schedule your workshop by January 31, 2011 to get this amazing price!

By Darren Held

Eating in Long Beach

You can’t just do improv 24/7, as it turns out. Sometimes you have to eat or sleep or, you know, do stuff to make a living. The making a living thing is really complicated, and we’re sure you’ve got sleeping pretty much wired by now, so we’ll give you a few hints on eating. Cuz that’s just how we roll.

Long Beach is known as the black hole of fine dining in the LA/OC area. And it’s true that there aren’t a lot of five-star options. But there are plenty of good neighborhood places. We’re partial to Star of Siam, La Paralaccia and of course Hot Java and Paradise, all on Broadway. Siam is (wait for it…) Thai food, in a nice mom-and-pop kind of atmosphere with great curries and a delish bar-b-q beef salad. La Paralaccia has excellent pastas and pizzas, and the pizza-making guys have awesome arms if you’re into watching well-muscled men do, um, pizza things with their muscles. And really, who isn’t? Hot Java has decent coffee and great pastries, and Paradise has good cheap drinks, tasty bar food and Chace.

In Belmont Shore (aka “The Shore” if you’re being cool and hip), we like Natraj, La Creperie and Thai Gourmet. Natraj offers authentic-seeming Indian food (never having been to India, we have to sort of take their word for it) with a lot of spice, good hot chai and mediocre service. La Creperie has awesome crepes, both savory and sweet, and a decent wine selection. Thai Gourmet is sleeker than Star of Siam and has some interesting menu items, although overall we prefer Siam.

Right now our fave new place is Sababa. The owner is friendly and helpful, the food is above average and the martinis are the best in the LBC.

Hope that was helpful. And if you have any tips on the making a living thing, could you please share? Thanks.

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