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by Darren Held

By Someone Else

You know the book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, by Robert Fulghum? We’ve taken the liberty to adapt his fantastically written perspective on life and frame it in the context of improv. Yeah, we’re ego-centric like that.

People who have seen one of Held2gether’s long form shows (Trixie Keeps the Books, Jim Beam & a Hundred Dollars, Over Easy Like Sunday Morning) often express how seemingly more difficult long form is to perform than short form improv. And yes, long form can be more complex — you’ve got multiple story lines to juggle, you’ve got a performance set that can last 20 to 30 minutes (which means your energy and your commitment needs to last that long, too), and you’ve got multiple characters to play.

But the rules of short form still apply to long form. Sometimes, you may have to modify the rules a touch to fit the complexities of long form; however, the underlying principles remain the same. For example, you still need to agree with the information your partners have provided (yes, and!). But in long form, you don’t have to stay confined in the same scene – you can branch out to create something new that agrees with already established information. The underlying principle of “yes, and” still remains. Only now, you can form a whole new scene, based on a previous scene.

In other cases, the rules of short form are intensified in long form. For example, in short form improv, you learn to balance the amount of listening you do with the amount of talking you do (give-and-take). In long form, that balance becomes even more critical. That’s because long form improv involves eight, nine, maybe even ten players — way more than in the typical two or three-person short form improv scene. Now you have more information to synthesize with your own brilliant ideas.

It’s just like the lessons Robert Fulghum covers in his book. In Kindergarten, you learn that warm milk and cookies are good for you. As you get older, the same still holds true – only now you drink 2% milk to maintain your girlish or guyish figure. In Kindergarten, you learn to share everything. Later in life, you know to share everything, except communicable diseases. In Kindergarten, you learn to not hit people. As an adult, you never hit someone, unless they really, really deserve it. See? Life is just like improv. Stuff you learn in Kindergarten still holds true, but you may have to adjust the lessons a bit as you get older.

So, whether you prefer short form or long form, Held2gether classes teach you the foundation for good improvisation. We’ll teach you a set of basic rules: listen to the information given to you, balance give-and-take, commit to the scene, and agree with your scene partner. Once you’ve mastered the basics, the improv sky is the limit!

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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