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by Darren Held

So tonight in the Held2gether Improv Comedy Level 2 class (which is a mouthful but really just means “intermediate”), we’re going to be justifying stuff. Which really just means “making shit make sense.”

Sometimes in an improv scene, what comes out of your mouth may not make sense. It’s weird how, in real life, you can have perfectly normal conversations with people – conversations that you have NOT rehearsed, by the way – and you don’t start talking about albino aliens giving birth to grasshoppers in nests made of moss. I mean, that almost never happens when I’m speaking to people in real life.

But something happens to people in improv scenes that occasionally makes crazy information come tumbling out of their mouths. Maybe they get nervous, or they didn’t really listen to what their scene partner just said so they don’t know how to respond, or the audience suggestion threw them for a loop. Who knows, maybe they just watched too much Star Trek and they have aliens on the brain. In any event, it happens. And it’s important to know what to do when it does.

First and foremost: DO NOT PANIC. Trust me, panic will just lead you further down the road to Crazyville. Instead, take a breath and a moment to think about the loopy information that just came out. Then justify it. WHY did you just tell your scene partner this information? HOW does it relate to anything that’s happened previously in the scene? If you have a reason for saying something, you can say pretty much anything. But you need to spell it out for your scene partner and the audience, otherwise we just assume you’ve been hitting the hooch. Again.

Of course, it’s helpful to pretend in improv scenes that you are an actual human having an actual conversation with another actual human, in which case bizarro information about grasshopper alien births will probably not come out. But sometimes, it’s just hard to pretend you’re an actual human. So the justifying thing comes in handy.

You’re welcome.

By Sonnjea Blackwell

Darren Held
About Darren Held
Darren is the CEO and Creative Director of Held2gether, Improv for LIfe. He has been teaching and performing improv for 15 years, and has performed with H2g, the Groundlings, UCB and Second City. He loves Moto, red wine, and Madonna.

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