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by Chris Brennan


Oof..that first time…after being away from it for a couple of months…or years. So much can go wrong.  So many thoughts.  Too many.

Nerves kick in…I am not comfortable in this new space…I want to do the best job possible for my partner, but I feel like I am letting them down. Am I going too fast? Too slow? Am I trying to hard? Am I being judged? Does my partner notice just how much I am sweating here?

Why did I do this to myself again? I totally could have been home nursing an IPA or 4 and watching “Million Dollar Listing” with my dog, Murphy.

But here I am. Trying so hard to be “present”…”in the moment”…”vulnerable”. I want to give myself up to the night. I want this night to be glorious.

Wait..did the teacher just write something down about me?

I have been performing in front of people off and on now for about 25 years…so why am I always so uptight about the first day of a new improv class?

On this first day of class, I am overflowing with multiple personalities. Yes, if you must know, I am a Gemini, but this is freaking ridiculous.

I am the “I’m Not Good Enough” Chris. This is the me that expects to walk in and immediately be told “Chris, you really really suck. Not just as an improviser, but as a human. Just really really awful.” This me is fully anticipating that everyone in this room will at least be at the level of those dudes on that improv show. Not only that, but they will all hate me for just how terrible I am.

I am the “I’m Better Than You” Chris. This is the me that tells myself “Hey, I’ve lived in New York”. This particular me seems to think that paying exorbitant rent to live in a closet, eating Cup of Noodles daily, and being wayyy too comfortable with the smell of human urine, somehow makes me better at improv than anyone else in the room.

I am the “Competitive Improv” Chris. A psychotherapist would tell you that this is clearly a mixture of the 2 previous personalities. In my normal day to day life, I am not competitive. I don’t really understand someone like Kobe Bryant and his sick obsession with winning. Actually, I would rather you win, so you like me more. (That’s perhaps another personality for another time.)But something happens when the first class starts. I lose all sense of reason, and somehow try to “win” at improv. I want to show everyone that I am the most funny, have the quickest ideas, and am the generally the best improviser in the history of improv. (Screw you, Greg Proops!) During our scene, who cares what you have to say? This ain’t about “listening”! I will say what I want, and I will win the day!

The sad truth Is, of course, that no one “wins” at improvisation. In fact, the only way you can “lose” at improvisation is when you try to “win”.

I have just begun my 3rd class with Held2Gether. Yes, the personality disorder still exists, but because of the warm, accepting styles of Kendra and Darren, I find myself moving through the personalities with relative ease. They have somehow created a culture here that seems to be unique among other classes I have taken. A culture that places an emphasis on acceptance and joy and this thing called “play”.

It may take a few more classes to finally be rid of the First Class Personality Disorder, but that’s okay, I can always Tivo “Million Dollar Listing”.


-Chris Brennan

Chris Brennan
About Chris Brennan
Chris is an actor, improviser, musician and writer. He makes dough as a fun, tall trainer for an HR Services company. He can be seen hanging out on 2nd Street in Belmont Shore under his street name "Mad Dog".

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