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by Darren Held

By Sonnjea Blackwell

I had a class the other day with a substitute teacher who happened to be one of the founders of the Groundlings. So I guess you could say she knows a little something about improv comedy. And Phyllis got on to the subject of audiences for some reason, saying that if she could ever study anything she wanted she would study the psychology of audiences.

I totally agree. Audiences are just plain weird, no offense to those of you who find yourselves in an audience from time to time. Which I guess would technically be all of us.

When H2G performed with The Magic Meathands the other week, it was interesting to hear the audience’s comments. People who are Meathands regulars liked the Meathands better. Our fans liked H2G better. So there appears to be a certain element of liking what you’re used to better than that new, weird stuff that other people do.

Of course, there’s a limit to that as well, because recently some of our hard core regulars have suggested we mix it up a bit more. So audiences want to feel comfortable and know kind of what to expect, but they still want surprises and changes from time to time.

But enough about my musings. Back to Phyllis who, after all, is the expert. She said that in her years of performing with and directing the Groundlings she learned that sometimes it simply doesn’t matter what the performers do on stage – the audience will love or hate the show regardless because for whatever reason, that’s what that particular audience was in the mood to do that night. She said there were shows where the cast was beyond spectacular, and they all knew they nailed it. Only the audience was like, “meh.” And other shows when everybody sucked and the audience could not get enough.

This is not meant to encourage the Held2gether troupe and students to quit practicing and throw all the rules out the window. It’s simply to illustrate that you can’t please all of the people all of the time, and with improv (as with life) you should just do the very best you can and be happy with that – regardless of what anybody else thinks.

I mean, that’s just my opinion and all, and I hope you think that’s okay.

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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