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by Darren Held

By Sonnjea Blackwell

A very wise person who prefers to remain anonymous once told me, “You can’t be cool doing improv.” Of course, we all know that improv itself is awesomely cool, and people who do improv are awesomely cool, and people who teach improv are awesomely cool. So it would appear that this very wise and anonymous person was, in fact, a doofus.

But no. What he was trying to get me to understand was that, in trying stuff in improv scenes – characters, emotions, voices, ideas, whatever – you have to be totally fearless and not worry about what you look or sound like. In other words, you can’t worry about looking cool.

Good advice, but very hard to put into practice. And yes, I am now going to make a connection between improv and real life. Cuz that’s just how I roll. But just imagine how much happier and less stressed we would be if we went through life not worried about making a good impression or being [insert favorite adjective here] enough or, you know, looking cool. I don’t mean we should do whatever we feel like with no impulse control, like stealing candy bars or driving backwards or pretending to have Tourette’s in church. Well, maybe the last one. But if we eliminated the need to appear cool to our friends, coworkers, family, strangers, pets, neighbors and mail carriers, imagine how brave we would be!

Do you sing at the top of your lungs in the shower? Then why are you afraid to belt out a song in public? Trust me, no one thinks you’re going to open your mouth and sound like Lady Gaga or Bruno Mars. You’ll be off-key and flat, and you’ll probably mangle the words. And…? Will the world end? I suppose it’s theoretically possible, but really, the odds are very, very small. So you’ll sing badly and have a great time and probably encourage someone else to bust out and you’ll all laugh. Which in my book is just about the best possible outcome in any situation.

Do you talk in crazy voices in the car? Dance like you’re on SoulTrain alone in your kitchen? Perform stand-up routines for your dog? Make goofy faces in the mirror? Don’t even try to tell me you don’t! And if you’re determined to be cool all the time, you’re depriving the world of all that pent-up, private creativity you’ve got going on. That’s just plain selfish of you, if you wanna know my opinion.

Lucky for you, the Held2gether Intro to Improv Workshop is coming up in a coupla weeks. We’ll help you with your selfish streak. And two minutes into class, you’ll be laughing so hard you won’t even care if you look cool anymore. Which is, you know, pretty damn cool.

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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