By Darren Held

By Sonnjea Blackwell

By Darren Held

May I Suggest?

By Sonnjea Blackwell

By now most of you know that improv depends on the audience giving the improvisors suggestions. But I’m wondering, rhetorically of course, if you know why we need your suggestions. Ha, you weren’t expecting a quiz on a holiday, were you?

I’ll tell you why. Cuz, you know…

Sure, we could just decide amongst ourselves, “I know! Let’s be at Panda Express!” or “Hey, let’s pretend we’re sisters!” And we could still improvise based on that.

But the thing is, improv is totally interactive. The point is that the audience is an integral part of the performance. When you suggest a Western as a genre of a play (really, are there any other types of plays?) part of the game is to make that work. If you say we’re zombies, we’re zombies.

Sometimes, we have trouble staying with the suggestion. That’s our bad, and we’re sorry. You might tell us we’re at a volcano, and we might say something about the nice volcano scenery and then proceed to have a scene that could have taken place anywhere – my living room, a funeral home or, you know, Panda Express, where most things in the world occur. What we’re supposed to do is have whatever transpires between our characters happen as a result of the suggestion you give us – where we are, who we are or what we’re doing.

An improv guru recently put it this way: The audience has to feel like that scene could not have taken place without their suggestion.

At H2G, we are more than happy to be Western zombies at Panda Express if that’s what you want to see. So start working on your suggestions, cuz we have a First Fridays improv show coming up this Friday at Elise’s Tea Room. And we can’t do it without you!

By Darren Held

Improv Ain’t Easy

By Sonnjea Blackwell

My dad was a fire fighter back in the day, and I remember one time I said something along the lines of, “Being a fireman seems hard,” to which dad replied, “Well, if it was easy, everyone would do it.” Then he said something like, “It looks like that guy got whupped on with an ugly stick.”

Yes, I come by my brilliant wit quite naturally. Thanks.

But back to the if it was easy, everyone would do it part, which was my original point before I got sidetracked by unicorns. Of course, no matter how easy putting out fires might become at some point in the future when we discover how to shoot water from our eyeballs, not everyone will choose to do it. Dad wasn’t long on logic.

But he did have a point before he got sidetracked by ugly guys, and that was that if things were all easy as pie, nothing anyone did would be special. Putting effort into learning a skill gives you a sense of accomplishment and pride in having overcome something – perhaps simply overcoming a lack of knowledge of the subject, or perhaps something far greater like overcoming personal obstacles such as fear or lack of confidence or an inability to express yourself or what have you.

Anytime you take a class in any subject, you are taking a risk. When the subject is something as revealing as improv, the risk goes up exponentially. You’re literally exposing yourself – your strengths and weaknesses are all right out there for the rest of the class to see. It’s terrifying and exhilarating and enlightening and mind-expanding all at once. Of course, the beauty is that everyone in the class is in the same position. They all have different strengths and weaknesses, but they all have them.

The trick is to learn not to compare yourself to others, and to just decide: I’m going to learn as much as I can and have fun doing it. If you simply must compete and compare yourself, compare yourself to how you were last class. Compete with the past you and see if you can make the present you better than that. Trust me, you’ll be better than some people at some things, and you’ll be worse than some people at other things. Just like life.

Pushing yourself is the only way to grow. The great news is, Held2gether improv classes are safe, encouraging and designed to be so much fun you forget you’re terrified. Yes, it’s hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it. But it’s not, so most people don’t even try. And those who do should be incredibly proud of putting themselves out there and learning a new skill that involves so much of themselves.

If you want to push yourself, sign up for the next Held2gether Intro Class – we have 6-week classes and 1-day workshops. C’mon. Dad would be proud!

By Darren Held

Improv Parties!

By Sonnjea Blackwell

It’s Memorial Day weekend, peeps! I’m not implying you can’t read a calendar, I’m just mentioning it because it totally snuck up on me. I seriously cannot believe it’s the kick-off weekend of summer already.

Which can only mean one thing: parties. Summer in SoCal is… well, it’s pretty much the same as winter in SoCal, now that I think about it. We do live in weather Utopia here. But still, there’s a summer vibe that suggests relaxation, vacation, fun and, duh, parties.

In case you haven’t noticed, we at H2G are party people. And we’re improv people. And, like the peanut butter and chocolatey goodness of Reese’s, we think parties and improv are two great things that go great together.

We do a variety of party events: we can perform at your party and let you sit around doing jell-o shots while you shout out suggestions, or we can help you throw an interactive party where we facilitate games for your guests to play while doing jell-o shots, or we can do a combination where we do a show and include you and your guests and their jell-o shots in the show.

Of course, we also do parties that don’t include jell-o shots (or alcohol of any kind, if that’s your pref), including lunch-time work parties for stress reduction and morale boosting. I don’t mean to make it sound like the only parties that don’t include alcohol are at the office. Duh. Those are the ones that usually have the MOST booze. I just mean that we work within your definition of party and help you achieve whatever goal you’re looking for: Ice breakers. Entertainment. Something different than the same old backyard bar-b-q. A Friday lunchtime reward for a hard week at the office. Block party get-to-know-your-neighbors better. You name it.

These events are totally customized, so email Darren if you’re interested and he will give you a call to hammer out the deets. Oh, it does cost extra if we have to provide the jell-o. C’mon, people, we can’t do everything for you.

By Darren Held

Intro to Improv Workshop Brightens Up June Gloom

By Sonnjea Blackwell

A half-day Intro to Improv Workshop in Long Beach sounds like a great way to kick off the summer, don’t you think?

Well, you’re in luck! It just so happens that Held2gether had the same idea. We were sitting around, talking about how dreary June Gloom is and wondering what could be done about it, when suddenly it occurred to us: nothing brightens the day like laughing your ass off. So we decided to offer another one of our wildly popular 1/2 day improv workshops! You’re welcome.

It’s Sunday, June 12th from noon – 4 p.m. at the EXPO Art Center in Long Beach. These workshops are awesome for:

  1. People who love the idea of improv but have been scared to actually commit to a 6-week class
  2. People who don’t have time for a 6-week class
  3. People who have taken the intro class and want extra practice
  4. People who have a Sunday afternoon with nothing to do
  5. People who are as crazy about improv as I am

Of course, you can sign up at the H2G website.

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