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by Darren Held

By Sonnjea Blackwell

Mutual Improv Admiration Society

You know how it is in life, when you tend to discount things that come easily to you or that you do well? And you admire people who can do something that you find next to impossible? Like, I can put together anything Ikea makes in under 10 minutes, which seems like a dumb skill to me. But I’m totally jealous of people who can plan a vacation and not get overwhelmed by the planes and the hotels and all the damn choices.

It’s the same with improv. Not the prefab furniture or travel arrangements, I mean. Duh. But the tendency to discount that which you do well while over-regarding the skills of others. I’ll explain. You’re welcome.

Last week I had my semi-regular crisis of confidence regarding my ability to have different characters and, as Andy Co-Dependent would say, “bring the funny.” And yet, after one of my classes, a long-time improvisor who I’ve never been in class with before and whose strength is characters gave me the best compliment you can get in improv: He said he can’t wait to work with me. I’d been thinking I really wanted to work with him because he’s a pro and hilarious and all that, but I couldn’t see any reason the feeling would be mutual.

Turns out, while I’ve been busy admiring his ability to take on characters, he’s been admiring my ability to add great information. Since adding information and justifying pretty much anything are not skills I had to learn, I consider them less important than skills I have to work at. But of course, Information is one of the Big 3 of improv rules. Agreement is another. And Commitment (to the scene and to the character you’re playing) is the third. So the skill I admire is no more important than the skill I possess.

I think the message here is that there’s no point in being jealous of other people’s abilities. If they can do something that you want to be able to do, work hard at learning it. But don’t discount the things you already do well, because they’re important too, and other people think those are the skills worth having. Naturally, Held2gether improv classes in Long Beach can help you learn all of those skills.

Well, the Big 3, anyway. We don’t actually spend much time on furniture assembly or booking travel. Sorry.

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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