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by Darren Held

In my non-improv life, I write content for websites. I know, pretty friggin’ glamorous, right? And sometimes I have to write biographical information for the people whose websites I’m writing for. Like “I’m the world’s foremost expert on hair plugs, and here’s why…”

It’s not a bad gig, actually. I mean, people in general like to talk about themselves, so when I interview them about their background and why they do what they do, they’re usually really happy and animated and eager to share their wonderfulness.

Except I talked to a guy last week who was not happy or animated or eager to share his wonderfulness. I can’t even swear that he was awake, to be honest. He talked in the most monotonous tone imaginable, and said the most blah things imaginable. He doesn’t like his profession (but he doesn’t hate it), he doesn’t love his clients (but they’re okay), he figures he’s pretty good at what he does (but it doesn’t actually matter to him or anyone else), he doesn’t think of himself as having a family because he’s divorced and his kids don’t live with him (but he’s not angry at his ex) and he thinks the best that can be said of him is that clients don’t think he’s an asshole (which is more than can be said of some). His words, not mine.

The whole time I was on the phone with him, I was looking for razor blades and screaming inside my head, MAKE IT MATTER. I don’t care what, just make ANYTHING matter.

Usually when I encounter unusual people in the real world, I think of them as good improv characters. Or at least as possessing traits I can use to create a good improv character. But this guy would be a terrible improv character. You can be a low energy, life’s-got-me-down character, but something has to matter. And you have to have a change of emotion for the scene to work – so that means at least two emotions: the one you start with, and the one you change to. He doesn’t even have one to start with.

Look, I’m glad the guy isn’t as depressed as he made me. I’m just upset I didn’t even get a good character out of the whole mind-numbing 47 minutes. Not that I was counting.

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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