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by Darren Held

There’s a famous line from the book and movie Love Story that goes something like this: Love means never having to say you’re sorry. While that’s clearly a load of crap, there are instances in life where apologies are unnecessary. Generally speaking, improv class is one of them.

Frequently, when I’m critiquing an exercise or scene and say something like, “So I think if we knew who you were to each other, blah blah blah,” or “It was a little questiony,” or whatever I might say, students will apologize to me. I hate that.

Wait, wait! Let me explain. I am SOOOOO not upset with the students. What I hate is that people have been so ingrained that they shouldn’t express themselves or that their feelings are stupid or that they have to be perfect, that they feel compelled to apologize for saying or doing something “wrong.” I’m upset with society, okay? Not you.

Improv is here to help you with being in the moment, saying things and doing stuff. Yes, in order to do “good” improv, there are rules that must be followed and a structure that everything hangs on. And it’s my job to teach students all that. But I don’t want people to apologize for not understanding something or not getting it right away or being unable to change a lifetime of habits like asking questions on the first try.

There are two things in improv class that warrant an apology: bailing and being disrespectful to a classmate. If you commit, do whatever your best is any given day and encourage your classmates, you have absolutely nothing to apologize for. In fact, if you do all those things, then you should high-five yourself and say loudly to any voices in your head that make you want to apologize for not being perfect: Fuck you. I’m magic.

That’s what I do.

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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