By Darren Held

Improv: The Most Important Meal of the Day

Homegirl Tracy Araujo has some interesting things to say about improv… Check it out, won’t you!?

Meister Eckhart said “Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.” And I totally take his advice. Well, only on Saturdays. Because I take level 1 improv class on Saturday mornings.

I’ve often been asked why, even though I’m an “advanced” student and troupe member, I still take level 1 classes on a consistent basis. My first response to that is “Duh. Sonnjea teaches it.” My second response is a bit more complex because I had actually never asked myself that same question – why do I still feel the need to take a “beginner” class? Let me see if I can explain:

We’ve been taught our whole lives that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? Have a good, nutritious breakfast, and you’ll feel energized the rest of the day. If you leave the house without eating, it’s pretty certain you’ll crash in a few hours and you’re more likely to eat something unhealthy before lunchtime just so you won’t pass out (unless you actually LIKE McDonald’s, but I digress).

It’s the same way with improv.

In improv – regardless of the level – you always need a good, nourishing beginning to your scene. ALL improv scenes begin the same way: space work, eye contact, and emotion. A scene without these things will flounder and spend the entire three minutes trying to figure out relationship, what they’re doing, or where they are. Just like our people bodies, a good improv scene needs a healthy beginning that can strengthen it for the next three minutes.

In level 1, you learn all this stuff for the first time. And if you take level 1 a second time, you learn it again. And if you take level 1 a third time, you learn it again. And again. And again. In level 1, we learn a game called “Add-info Lineup.” The purpose of Add-Info is to learn to build a scene, block-by-block. You know – space work, eye contact, and emotion. Oh, did I already say that? That’s because IT NEVER CHANGES.

You can do one million improv scenes and no two of those scenes would ever be the same – ever (and it would take a really long time). Reinforcing these very basics in class again and again (and again) has helped me tremendously because I’m required to remember, over and over again, what constitutes a good, solid beginning to my scenes. And I get to see Sonnjea every week.

So see? Every single scene needs a good breakfast or it will be forced to eat a lot of “stuff” with no nutritional value. Probably somewhere in Gonna-ville.