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by Darren Held

By Sonnjea Blackwell

Top Gun is a great movie. No, really.

Okay, fine. It’s a crappy movie. But it’s one of my favorites, and I love to pretend that I could fly fighter jets like that even though the reality is I get motion sick in an elevator. Something else about me that you really didn’t need to know, I suppose.

I know by now you’re used to my questionable leaps of logic, but in case you haven’t followed this one, I’ll elaborate. In the scene after Mav and Goose have ditched Ice Man and flown too low and done a little showboating, Jester gives them a lecture that includes the line, “That was some of the best flying I’ve seen yet, right up till the time you got killed. You never, ever leave your wingman.”

That’s the third rule of improv, by the way: never leave your wingman. See? I did have a point! I’ve mentioned agreement and information many times; commitment is the topic for today.

In an improv scene, you are going to live or die (so to speak – I’ve never seen an actual improv fatality) TOGETHER. So you have to commit. That means you stay in the location you started in. You have emotional reactions and responses to the information that comes up. You stay in character and don’t judge yourself, your partner or the scene you’re doing. You don’t giggle or make faces or shrug as if to say, “Well, I don’t really think that’s funny, but I’ve got nothing else.” You never give up, EVER, until the director or instructor ends the scene. And you never throw your scene partner under the bus in an effort to get a laugh for yourself – either by going for the obvious joke or one-liner, or by denying their information in order to create a story you like better, or by hinting to the audience with your words or actions that you think your partner is an idiot.

In other words, you never leave your wingman. I’ve taken classes at places that aren’t as incredibly supportive and encouraging as Held2gether classes and I’ve seen people do all of those things. I’ve even had some of them done to me. It isn’t very pleasant.

And once again, I’ll use my infamous logic to connect improv to real life: sticking with your wingman will get you a lot farther in life than ditching people left and right and trying to make it on your own. Whether it’s at work, or in family relationships or with friends – committing, giving the other person 100%, not judging them or yourself, and working to create a balanced, harmonious, mutually beneficial situation will make things easier in the long run.

Of course, H2G can help you with that. In fact, you could say we’re committed to helping you with that. And we’ve got the perfect Intro to Improv 1/2 Day Workshop to teach you all about staying with your wingman.

Stay tuned tomorrow when I somehow turn other 80s classic movies into improv analogies. I warned you, I can justify anything.

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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