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by Darren Held

Do you ever sit around and think, “Jeez, I wish there weren’t rules in baseball. Then it’d be awesome.”

Um, no. Nobody thinks that.

You have to have rules in order to have any kind of game. Otherwise, you just have a bunch of people doing some stuff. And, oh boy, is that ever fun. Not.

But with rules, you have a structure. You have clear objectives and accepted methods for achieving those objectives. The players know what to do and how to support their teammates, and the audience knows what to root for.

It’s the same with improv. If there weren’t rules, you’d just have a bunch of people saying some stuff, which is even more boring than a bunch of people doing some stuff. It’s the rules that give the players a framework in which to create.

Within the framework, of course, you have to remain flexible and let go of your agenda. In baseball, you have to be ready for a bunt, for example. In improv, you have to be ready for your scene partner to label you his niece, or a bag lady or an astronaut. In fact, I’d argue (and I can be very argumentative – just ask Darren) that what makes a team of any type successful is its ability to be flexible within the structure of the game. Going with the flow, adapting, changing course and adjusting in the moment are skills that apply equally well to sports and improv.

And to real life, duh. I haven’t made an improv = real life analogy for a while, and I think it’s high time. Life has rules, peeps. You can’t cut in line at the grocery store. You have to drive on the right side of the street. You have to show up at work, more or less on time. It’s those rules of society that keep chaos from ensuing. But within that framework, you are free to improvise. In fact, we encourage you to do so! Go to a different grocery store – or just buy all different food than you normally would. Take a detour on your way home. Look for work that actually inspires you so you want to show up on time.

Then, try to apply the rules of improv and see how much more fun that makes the Game of Life. Agree with people. Add your own information and contributions. Commit and really be in the moment.

Seriously, it’s more fun than watching baseball.

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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