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By Darren Held

I Can Haz Sarcasm?

Like many cats in literature (Garfield, that I Can Haz cat and dozens of others I can’t think of at the moment), I tend to be sarcastic. No, really. I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s true. It’s unfortunate because sarcasm doesn’t work in improv. There are a couple of reasons why that’s so, which I will now examine for you because I have to write something or Darren will wonder what exactly it is I do here.

Sarcasm can be direct: You couldn’t find your way out of a paper bag or indirect: What a great girlfriend YOU are. Sarcasm, though usually harsh in its intent, actually relies on subtlety of language.

And therein lies the problem. Improv has no time for subtley.

You have three minutes to have a scene. You need to spell out the who, what, where and what’s happening between you on this big day, and do it in a way that’s clear both to your scene partner and to the audience.

Particularly with the ironic, indirect version, you run the risk of confusing everyone in the room because you are essentially saying the exact opposite of what you mean. If your partner doesn’t pick up on the subtlety, you are now doing two separate scenes. If the audience doesn’t pick up on the subtlety, they aren’t really watching the scene that you think you’re doing. (FYI, that’s problematic. I’m just sayin’.)

Anyway, turns out, there’s a lesson here too. Being sarcastic is really a passive-agressive way to say what you want to say without actually saying it. Why not just be direct? It’s quicker and doesn’t have the mean undertone. Luckily, if you have a tendency to be sarcastic, H2G improv classes in Long Beach can help you, um, NOT be. Communicating clearly and directly is a skill that most of us can use a little more of, and improv’s a fun and hilarious way to do it.

At the very least, it can help you be sarcastic only when it’s appropriate. Like, you know, when people tell you that the Broncos won a game and you say, “Wow! I have been waiting for that news and now I can die happy.”

Theoretically speaking, of course.

By Sonnjea Blackwell

By Darren Held

Improv and Riding a Bike

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

That’s me breathing a huge sigh of relief. There’s an improv class tomorrow night, and by my calculations, it’s been 2.5 weeks since I last did improv.

Not that I’m counting.

That’s not a long time by normal people standards, I realize. But given that there was a period of time over the summer during which I did 13 improv activities in 11 days, 2 1/2 weeks is a bit of a dry spell for me.

I’m curious to see if I still remember the rules, or if I fall into a black, bottomless pit of questions, denials and Crazyville information.

Oh, okay, that’s not gonna happen. The thing about improv is, the skills you learn get so ingrained because you start to constantly use them in real life, that you’re not gonna forget them in 2 1/2 weeks. Or 2 1/2 years. Like riding a bike, you know. Once you learn that skill, it’s a skill you possess forever, unless you fall off the roof and hit your head or something. But that almost never happens.

So if you’ve taken a class, but it’s been a while and you think you don’t remember anything or that you don’t “have it” anymore, that’s just crazy talk. Sign up for a Held2gether improv class and see how much fun you have riding that bike again!

By Sonnjea Blackwell

By Darren Held

I was looking at the calendar and I realized that there’s an improv class on Thursday. That’s not exactly a newsflash, but it occurred to me that, since I was sick and missed class last week and the previous week’s class was on a Tuesday, I will have gone 2 1/2 weeks without doing improv.

I’m tempted to use Darren’s favorite exclamation here, except that it’s a family-friendly-ish blog. So instead I’ll just say, “Dang!” Kinda loses the emphasis, but you get my drift.

This is the longest I’ve gone without an improv class of one ilk or another this whole year. There was a stretch there over the summer where I had 13 improv activities squished into 11 days or some nonsense. Lisa remembers. That was during the time of the Mean Teacher (not associated with Held2gether in anyway

By Sonnjea Blackwell

By Darren Held

Want to Climb Up On Your Roof? Take Improv.

My roof is leaking, so I clambered up there to see if it was something I could fix. You know, in the rain. It’s not so stupid – I have a higher-than-normal single story roof, but it’s flat and therefore relatively safe. Once you climb up and over the parapet wall surrounding it, that is.

Oh, for the love of bunnies, why is she telling us this?? I know, I know. I can be a bit trying at times. Ask anyone in Held2gether. They’ve all had more than their fill of me by now.

I have a point, I promise. See, the thing is, I’m afraid of heights. And, as luck would have it, it was something I could not fix. So I climbed up there and – more traumatically – back down again for nothing. But for whatever reason, I felt I had to try and so I did.

I didn’t want to. But I learned in improv classes how to face my fears. People take improv classes for an infinite number of reasons, from wanting to improve their acting to wanting to be less shy to wanting to get a better job. I was of the “less shy” variety, combined with a desire to push myself out of my comfort zone. I’m not plagued by a myriad of fears or anything, but I do have a few and I wanted to learn to not let them get in my way.

Improv taught me that. You can’t plan in improv. You have no idea what’s going to happen, and you have to keep your mind open to the limitless possibilities. That means you can’t be thinking, “Crap! What if I do it wrong? What if nobody laughs? What if they laugh at the wrong things? What if they hate me? What if, what if, what if?”

You learn in improv that you can’t control the what ifs in life. And that, by not focusing on those negative what ifs, you are free to listen, contribute, do more. I’m not going to say you’ll never fail again once you’ve taken improv; real life includes failing, peeps. But in improv, you learn not to be afraid to fail. You learn to go big… and that sometimes that means you fail big. So what? You get up and you go big again!

Facing your fears and doing what scares you makes life a lot more interesting. If you’d like a more interesting life, take some Held2gether improv classes.

Just, you know, be careful on the roof. It’s pretty high up there.

By Sonnjea Blackwell

By Darren Held

I Can Make Your Bedrock

I’m sorry, I thought I would have a lot of extra time at the end of the year since we’re done with classes and shows until the new year, but I’m swamped with work of both the Held2gether type and the non-Held2gether type, so blogging had to take a back seat all week.

But never fear! Just in time for your weekend shenanigans, I have a helpful post for you. At the drop-in class the other night, they did a game based on cheesy pickup lines. I wasn’t there because I was evidently channeling a 95-year-old woman (or Viet) and was asleep before 7 p.m., but I’ve played it before. And I’ve heard cheesy pickup lines before.

Stop laughing. I meant I’ve heard people say them. You know, to other people. None of whom were me.

Anyway, my lameness aside, I am here to help. So just in time for the weekend, I’m going to list for you some of the awesome cheesy pickup lines people posted on the Held2gether Facebook page, which you should really “like,” by the way. Hope this helps with your weekend mischief. You’re welcome.

  • Baby, I’m no Fred Flintstone, but I can make your Bedrock.
  • My friend and I have a bet you won’t take off your blouse in a public place.
  • Come here pussycat. I have wet food in my pocket. [disclaimer: that was actually a suggestion from a cat]
  • Your legs must be tired because you’ve been running through my mind.
  • F@#* me if I’m wrong, but is your name Grizelda?
  • Wanna f@#*?
  • I think I’ve just died because I see an angel in front of me!
  • I’m not ugly, you’re just sober.

See, I’ve told you a million times that improv will literally help you in every area of your life. Even picking up dates in bars. If that’s not improv for life, I dunno what is!

By Sonnjea Blackwell

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