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by Darren Held

I would love to be able to shower you with a healthy dose of improv-y wisdom today, but the truth is, I’m not wise. At all.

What I’ve learned about improv comedy can fit into about three sentences. (Okay, 3 basic sentences with a couple of extra sentences for justification. What? I’ve told you before, I’m the Queen of Justification.)

  1. Be honest. The truth is not only stranger than fiction, it’s way the hell funnier, too. Just play the reality of the made-up situation you’re given, and the funny will happen.
  2. Don’t tell jokes. For the love of unicorns, people, one-liners do not belong in improv. If you simply can’t help yourself, do stand-up. That’s what one-liners and jokey punchlines are designed for. Every time you go for the joke, you stop the momentum of the scene and pull the audience out of the action.
  3. Choose to lose. There’s just something inherently funny about a loser who accepts the loser label and runs with it. Not only that, but an on-going battle/argument/contest of any kind is b-o-r-i-n-g, and to end it someone has to lose. In real life, the loser is the loser. In improv, the loser is the BIG winner. Being labeled any kind of loser is the best gift you can get. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth by denying it and insisting you aren’t, in fact, a loser.

I was thinking about writing a book about improv, but now I realize it would be a short book. Three sentences, and you’re an improv expert.

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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