By Darren Held

What I Ate On My Summer Vacation

My idea of vacation = food. I don’t know what it is about being on vacation, but whenever I’m on vacation I eat like a friggin’ horse. A friggin’ horse with a sweet tooth. And who may be a wino.

Yesterday we did some wine tasting. Then I ate a side of beef slathered in mushrooms. Oh, wait, that was all after the homemade English toffee and before the bread pudding.

I think it’s because vacation, like improv, is all about being in the moment. I’m not worried about what’s going to happen tomorrow, or even an hour from now. Right now, I’m in front of a shop (or, where I’m staying now, a “shoppe”) that sells pastries, and I like pastries. So I eat a pastry. Ten feet from now, I may be in front of a shoppe that sells tacos. I also like tacos. And there seems to be a municipal ordinance here that requires every second business to be a wine tasting room.

We all know how I feel about wine.

Tomorrow I’ll be back to the real world and, thankfully, real improv, so I don’t have to practice improv by yes, and-ing my sister-in-law whenever she suggests a snack.

Sis-in-law: Want some tea?
Sonnjea: Yes, and three scones as well.

Sis-in-law: Wanna go wine tasting?
Sonnjea: Yes, and let’s have some cheese with the wine.

Sis-in-law: Wanna go to the candy shoppe?
Sonnjea: Make itte a statement.
Sis-in-law: You look as if you’d like to go to the candy shoppe.
Sonnjea: Yes, and I’m going to need larger intestines to digest all this food.

If you want to learn to be in the moment without resorting to zero-impulse-control activities like eating your body weight in pastry, try a Held2gether improv class. All the fun of vacation; none of the calories. Yay.

By Sonnjea Blackwell

By Darren Held

Who Gets Ma?

My 3 Square peeps are at it again. Poor Ma.

By Sonnjea Blackwell

By Darren Held

Improv, Fire Drills & Sex. Oh My.

I finished Bossypants and I’m now convinced that Tina Fey and I are the same person. Only, you know, with a disproportionate distribution of talent (she has it).

When she was explaining about the whole Sarah Palin thing on SNL, she talked about a really funny bit Seth Myers wrote for her – only it was just for her. Tina had him re-write it to include Amy Poehler because, being an improv person, Tina didn’t feel comfortable doing the bit alone. She prefers the “buddy system” approach of improv.

This is exactly how I feel every time someone writes a sketch where I’m supposed to imitate an idiotic governor doing bizarre things in public. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to just say, “Look, I know I’m a dead ringer for Arnold, but I’m an improv girl – can you please write it to include Andy, Co-Dependent as Maria? That’d be better for me. Thanks.”

And then I wake up.

But really, that IS what I love about improv. The buddy system. And it’s so strange because growing up I used to hate any kind of group assignments in school or anything in which two or more people had to complete a task together. Like a fire drill. Or sex.

Just seeing if you’re awake.

Anyway, improv changed all that. Not only do I see the value of working with others, I actually prefer it. Two heads really are better than one. I no longer think I’m the only one who can solve a problem or come up with a good idea because I’ve seen literally thousands of examples where the addition of someone else’s idea has been what makes something work. It’s not all them, and it’s not all me. It’s us.

We have intro to improv classes all the time where we teach you to play well with others. When you learn to play well with others, you realize that it’s not so different from working well with others.

You’re on your own with the fire drills and the sex. I can’t do everything for you, peeps.

By Sonnjea Blackwell

By Darren Held

Weekend Cultural Events: Watch Some Free Improv/Read a Cheap Book

It’s the weekend. That can only mean one thing: Shameless plugs! Yay!

First of all, there’s an AWESOME Held2gether improv comedy show in Long Beach tomorrow night at Hot Java. We’ve got new stuff and not one, but TWO special guests! And did I mention it’s FREE? Well, it is. Free-o-rooni, people. It’s gonna be a hot one in the LBC, so come and enjoy the a/c, an iced latte, a scone and a bunch of grown-ups being silly.

Second, H2G is offering a very rare Wednesday night Intro to Improv Comedy class. Class starts September 7th (7 – 9 p.m. at EXPO Arts Center in Bixby Knolls), so register now before it fills up.

And finally, I wrote a book. No, really. Check it out at SonnjeaBlackwell.com! It’s called Killer Fate, it’s only $2.99, and it’s a fun, fast read for the weekend. There’s no improv, but there is a fair amount of swearing. You’re welcome.

Have a great weekend!

By Sonnjea Blackwell

By Darren Held

Improv: More Useful Than Diagramming Sentences

I honestly believe that improv is something that can benefit every man, woman and child on the planet and that, in a perfect world, they would teach improv in schools instead of, say, diagramming sentences. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that diagramming sentences is not a skill anyone needs. I would wager a large sum of money that not one of your friends, coworkers or romantic partners can diagram a sentence, and they are all functional members of society.

So why should they teach improv in schools? Because improv is all about playing well with others. Sure, you already get along okay with people or you wouldn’t have all those friends, coworkers and romantic partners who are unable to diagram a sentence. But could you improve your interpersonal interactions? Um, yes.

I know that’s presumptuous of me. I don’t even know you (except Lorna and Lisa and Andy, Co-Dependent), so how do I know in what areas you can improve? Well, I’ll tell you. Because everyone, no matter who they are or what they do, could listen better. Agree quicker. Contribute more. Commit more fully.

And I know a lot of people want to do all of those things. But it’s hard to improve at something simply because you’ve decided to improve. I can decide to be better at hitting a softball, but that’s not what’s gonna make me a home-run hitter. I need someone to show me the proper stance, and how to hold the bat and when to swing and all that – and then I need to practice a lot.

Turns out, H2G classes can teach you how to listen, agree, contribute and commit – and in such a way that you think you’re just hanging out with some of the nicest, funnest (diagram that) people and playing some hilarious games. It relieves stress, gets you out of your head, and reminds you that all that silly stuff you did as a kid was actually a lot healthier than all the uptight stuff you have to do as a grown-up.

Come out and have some fun with us. Classes start all the time!

By Sonnjea Blackwell

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