By Darren Held

I’m a Failure… and Proud of It!

Okay, peeps, as 2011 comes to a screeching halt it’s time to reflect on our achievements of the past 12 months and ponder what we’d like to accomplish in the next 12. I don’t know about you, but I was freaking awesome in 2011!

  • I made far less money than I wanted to, and I would probably need a raise in order to reach the poverty level.
  • I sold fewer than 50 copies of my book. 99% of them were to family members.
  • I failed a non-Held2gether improv class in such spectacular fashion that the teacher told me I was a “liability to anyone who has the misfortune of being my scene partner.”

Yeah, that last one still stings a little.

But I actually wasn’t being sarcastic when I said I was freaking awesome. Delusional, perhaps, but not sarcastic. You don’t fail this big without trying some scary shit. Working for myself, publishing books, taking classes that push me way, WAY out of my comfort zone… 2011 was a year of going big and, in some cases, failing big.

You know what I learned? Failing doesn’t mean a damn thing. You don’t die. Well, usually not, anyway. You learn things about yourself, regroup, and try again. Or try something else. Somebody famous said if you haven’t failed at anything, you haven’t really tried. And I say, if you haven’t really tried, you don’t know what you’re capable of.

It’s never too late, I swear. If you don’t think you’re brave enough to really go after something, welcome to my world. I didn’t even know that was my problem when I first started taking improv classes – all I knew was my world seemed to be shrinking and I needed to push myself out of the comfort zone that had become a prison. Of course, what I discovered is that improv is both a metaphor for life and a miraculous tool for living life well, and thanks to the skills I learned and the encouragement I got in H2G classes, I became brave enough to go after stuff… and brave enough to fail. And life is so much more fun and interesting as a result.

Naturally, I hope you succeed beyond your wildest dreams in 2012. But I also hope you’re willing to fail. Happy New Year!

By Sonnjea Blackwell

By Darren Held

Be As Glamorous as Marilyn Monroe!

You know how some famous celebrities change their names because Norma Jean doesn’t sound as glam as Marilyn or whatever? Yeah, I did that. Only, you know, not to Marilyn. Duh.

People think it’s unusual to change your name, but I actually know several people who have done so – some legally and some just in daily usage. Richard of H2G Friday Company fame told me a hilarious story about a woman of his acquaintance who had a name that was both cumbersome and unattractive. Somehow during a conversation, she let it be known that she had changed her name to that strange moniker and Richard, ever tactful, replied, “You chose that?” Anyway, that’s not really my point.

I was just thinking about labeling in improv and how names can be labels. It’s all well and good to call everyone some variation of Frank, but if you call someone Dr. Franklin, that gives a little more information about the character. Names like Missy, Buffy or Bubbles give a different impression than Prudence, Harriet or Constance. Bubba is not going to give the same information as Harrison. Using Mr. or Mrs. So-and-So tells us a little something about the status of the characters.

Yeah, that’s pretty much all I got today: Labels = good.

In any event, I changed my name to Sonnjea a long time ago, and now I’m totally glam. Need proof? Come check me out at Last Laugh Saturday in January or watch our hilarious videos.

Oh, okay, fine. Marilyn’s more glamorous. But I am kinda blonde.

By Sonnjea Blackwell

By Darren Held

We Like You! Do You Like Us?

Damn. I was sure our Held2gether Facebook page would get to 500 likes by Christmas. Turns out, I’m wrong sometimes: We ended up with 496 at the end of Christmas.

I’m not complaining or anything. That’s a lot, especially considering we don’t buy likes or do weird advertising aimed just at getting people to click on our page for no good reason. We’re really happy that the 496 people who like H2G actually like H2G and don’t just like the page because they think they’ll get a free cookie or a reindeer butt magnet. Yay!

Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you probably already realize how awesome we are and have liked our FB page. You probably even follow Held2gether on Twitter. If so, thank you! We would have no reason to exist if it weren’t for our fans, and we really do appreciate you all more than you know!

As a token of our gratitude, we already have shows planned for you to kick off the New Year right! The first Last Laugh Saturday is Saturday, January 28th. I know, I know – that’s, like, a whole month+ away. But we wanted you to have something to look forward to as a reward for tackling 2012 with gusto and determination! Cuz that’s how we roll, people.

So go ahead and finish off the fruit cakes and egg nog, write your list of New Year’s Resolutions and organize your gifts into their appropriate categories: Can’t Wait to Use It; Might As Well Use It Since It Was Free; Re-Gift ASAP. We’ll be practicing yes, anding and adding information and justifying, so when you need a little break from the real world we’ll be ready for you!

Oh, and if you haven’t liked us on FB yet, could ya? Thanks! Here’s the handy link to our Held2gether Facebook page.

Yeah. Turns out, I’m also a little needy sometimes.

By Sonnjea Blackwell

By Darren Held

Politically Correct Holiday Greetings from H2G

If you’ve seen a Held2gether improv show in Long Beach, you know we are not always politically correct. I realize that probably comes as a shock to many of you, considering our polite, mild-mannered demeanors, but every once in a while we’re not on our best behavior. I blame Darren; he taught us everything we know.

Anyway, in terms of PCness, I do sort of like the “Happy Holidays” concept because it’s more inclusive than greetings that are specific to Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Arbor Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s. But I don’t take offense when people offer me a greeting for a holiday I don’t celebrate – I mean, as long as people are wishing me a happy, merry or good whatever, I’m really not picky about the whatever. For example, I’ve been wished Happy Chinese New Year before. I think it’s obvious that I am not Chinese (at least not in the same way that Lisa is Chinese), and yet I don’t jump to any conclusions that the person offering me such a greeting is trying to belittle my beliefs or imply that their New Year is any better than my New Year. Even though it totally is – I mean, Chinese New Year has dragons and shit; we just have Dick Clark.

You know I have a point, however obscure I attempt to make it. My point is that improv is about accepting, and that’s what I was thinking about when I started this post. You learn to accept what other people offer – ideas, information, gifts, holiday wishes – without judging the offering or the person doing the offering. You accept it, and then you add some information or wishes or whatever of your own, and pretty soon you have the makings of a great improv scene or, you know, a happier world.

Held2gether: improv for life wishes everyone a joyous holiday of their choosing. Or, as I like to say, Feliz Kwanzukahmas.

By Sonnjea Blackwell

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