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by Darren Held

By Sonnjea Blackwell

I like to eat out. A lot. In fact, next to improv it’s one of my favorite things to do. Until recently, however, it had never really occurred to me to combine the two – I mean, just because you like two things doesn’t mean you like those things together. I like vodka, and I like scrambled eggs. But I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like a vodka scramble.

Anyway. The spouse-man and I went to lunch last week and the small restaurant was nearly empty because it was past lunch hour. There was our booth, a booth directly behind me with two totally normal-sounding people, and a table across the room from us with two men. One of them seemed normal. The other one was one of those annoying, rambling, loud-talking people with nothing of interest to say. He explained in mind-numbing detail the fact that, should his wife quit working, they would then be without her salary. Really? You mean her boss isn’t going to continue paying her once she’s no longer employed? Shocking.

It was so loud and so boring, that it was hard to have our own conversation. Until I remembered I do improv. Luckily, hubby has been subjected to countless hours of improv talk over the past couple of years, and he’s happily attended a Held2gether 1/2-day Intro to Improv Workshop so, although he’s not the amazingly brilliant improv wiz that I am (yes, that was sarcasm, people), he knows the basics.

So I said, in my performing voice no less, “Remember when I was an astronaut?” And he played right along, reminding me that since I was working for the USSR (that’s what we called Russia back then, youngsters) at the time, I was technically a cosmonaut. And we had about a 20 minute conversation about the muscular atrophy and other health problems I endured as a result of the weightlessness in the space craft, how I became an ice skater after the space career ended, how he worked at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and managed not to get radiation poisoning and how I would like to go back and visit Russia, but I can’t. Or rather, I could go back, but they wouldn’t let me out again since they are still pissed off that I stole Catherine the Great’s solid gold comb and brush from the Hermitage.

As amused as we were with ourselves, we stayed committed and didn’t break character, even while drinking our chai. We paid and left, and loud talker man was still rambling away about his wife’s health insurance co-pay. But we weren’t annoyed with him anymore, and that’s what improv’s all about: amusing yourself and not being annoyed at others. Or, you know, something like that.

There are only a couple spaces available in the Tuesday night H2G Intro to Improv Comedy Class, so I suggest you register right away! You don’t want to be caught unprepared the next time you eat out, do you?

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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