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by Darren Held

If you’ve ever seen a Held2gether improv comedy performance live (or watched one of our killer videos) you know how funny we are. No, really. We’re hilarious.

Of course, sometimes we’re only funny to us. When you work with a group of talented people, you get to know things about each other that create a whole universe of inside jokes. For example:

  • Names. In improv scenes, the improvisors always give each other names. With the millions (billions?) of possible names to choose from, we could theoretically never use the same name twice. And yet, Barbi is partial to the name Jo-Jo. Jayme likes Teri for a girl and Toby for a guy. Sally is universally popular. If Barbi and Jayme are in a scene together and call each other Jo-Jo and Teri, the rest of us will crack up as if that’s the “funny” in the scene. The audience assumes we’re developmentally challenged.

  • Physicality. In improv, we create multiple characters in a single show, each with their own physical traits. Still, we can predict: Jayme will end up on the floor. Sonnjea will gesticulate wildly with her hands. Robert will rub his belly. Waverly will pick imaginary objects off the floor. Jaimz will shout. The rest of the players will place bets to see how long it takes for one of these things to occur. The winner will buy drinks after the show.

  • Characters. We all have characters that are easier to play than others. In any given show, you can be sure Viet will play an Asian character, Sean will play a gay character, Sheri will play a sexually inappropriate character, Paul will play an old man and Andy will play a confused old man. Playing these fall-back characters can still be a stretch for the performers, though. I mean, sometimes Viet plays a Chinese character, and sometimes he plays a Vietnamese character. Wow, what range!

Now when you’re at the Hot Java show next Saturday, you’ll be in on all the inside jokes. You can thank me later.

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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