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by Darren Held

Sketch writing class is tonight, which is both good and bad. It’s good because it’s outrageously funny. It’s bad because it’s outrageously funny.

Yes, bi-polar disorder has been suggested, but I’ma go with “blonde.” And anyway, I have an explanation, so I’m not crazy.

The good side of outrageously funny is that it’s just plain fun. And listening to what the other students write – and their suggestions and additions to other peoples’ work – is inspiring and helps get the creative juices flowing. Writing can tend to be a lonely job, where you get stuck in your own head. Writing with 10 other people gets you out of your own drama.

The bad side of outrageously funny is that it’s intimidating as hell. Everybody in the class has hilarious ideas for characters or plots or jokes or stories – and often, for all those things in one brilliant sketch. Where do I get off calling myself a “writer” when everyone in the room writes at least as funny as I do – and frequently much, much funnier?

It’s not a different concept from improv in that regard. It’s just that I wasn’t a professional improvisor before I started taking improv classes, so it made sense that I wasn’t good at it at first. Being a professional writer makes the egotistical part of my brain think I should be able to write the funniest sketches EVER with little to no effort.

The un-egotistical part of my brain remembers that you don’t get better if you only do what you’re good at. So I can write the kinds of sketches that ARE effortless for me, and that’s all I’ll ever be able to do. Or I can write and re-write and cry and pout until I learn how to write the kinds of sketches I don’t really understand yet.

It’s true of improv, too, you know. Oh, and life. Don’t forget life.

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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