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by Darren Held

Andy, Co-Dependent took offense yesterday when I proclaimed that only three people of my acquaintance could likely beat me in an arm wrestling contest, and he was not one of the three. Realistically, I’m sure he’s right – I am, after all, a girl.

But the whole arm wrestling conversation triggered a long-forgotten memory that I will now share with you, as I am wont to do from time to time. At some point, I will try to draw a parallel between my memory and improv, as I am also wont to do.

My dad used to be quite a character: your typical beer-drinking-smack-talking-macho-redneck fireman. Once he was at a drinking establishment of ill repute when another patron got in his face about something. One thing led to another and, rather than resorting to fisticuffs, the two decided to settle their differences by arm wrestling.

My dad was 6 feet tall but lanky and wiry; the other dude was more muscular. Of course you see where this is going. Dad won. Then he won again. And again. The more the big dude lost, the madder he got until he foolishly bet my dad his motorcycle. My dad already had a motorcycle, but when he beat the guy for the final time, he took his bike anyway to “teach him a lesson.” Oy.

The other guy seemed to have the size and the strength, and he definitely had the swagger. But my dad had the commitment. When he did a thing, whether it was arm wrestling drunks or putting out fires or building a house, he committed 100% to that thing until it was finished.

And now for the improv connection. (Fair warning, peeps: you don’t wanna bet me your motorcycle that I will be unable to tie something – anything – to improv. You’ll be cursing me all the way to the bus stop).

I’ve yammered on about the importance of commitment in improv, and I’m sure you realize by now that there is absolutely no successful improv without commitment. Stay in it, don’t bail, don’t judge yourself or your scene partners, don’t laugh, don’t do the wink-wink-nudge-nudge thing, don’t leave the location. Fortunately, commitment isn’t as hard to learn as you might imagine, and we teach people how to do it every day. We’d be delighted to teach you*, too, so register for a Held2gether Intro to Improv Comedy Class today… and don’t procrastinate, because some of the January classes are already full-o-rooni, people!

*Disclaimer: Held2gether does not teach arm wrestling skills. We do not advocate arm wrestling with drunks in bars or elsewhere. Gambling is illegal. Motorcycles are dangerous. Always wear a helmet. Not all firemen are of the beer-drinking-smack-talking-macho-redneck variety, and we did not intend to imply otherwise. May not be combined with any other offers.

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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