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by Darren Held

Improv is scary. What? I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it; everyone should do it. But I’m not gonna lie to you. It’s friggin’ scary. Which is partly WHY everyone should do it.

Doing any kind of art is scary, of course. Improv isn’t special in that regard. Any type of creative self-expression is fraught with every possible variation of angst, self-doubt and fear the human mind can conjure up. If we were half as creative in our art as we are in the ways in which we sabotage ourselves, we’d be pretty damn prolific.

The difference between improv and other forms of art, however, is that improv is offered up as-is. Actors and singers and dancers get to rehearse and rehearse and rehearse before they perform a show for an audience. Artists get to paint and repaint or sculpt and resculpt until they are satisfied with their creation. Writers get to rewrite and edit till the cows come home. You get the idea.

Improvisors can practice, of course. That’s what class is all about. But when it comes time to invite an audience to see our art, we just have to put it out there. We have one chance to get it right – there is no rehearsing, no erasing, no editing… nothing.

In class, we stress the importance of committing to the scene and not bailing out when it goes wonky or gets confusing. That’s because in improv, there are no do-overs. But the awesome thing is, when you get used to just going for it, you learn that you can make something out of nothing. And by not bailing, you learn that you can stick it out through the tough parts and you don’t die or stuff.

And it’s a pretty incredible thing to create art spontaneously and in the moment, without relying on Photoshop or Instagram or anything else to perfect it. No matter how scary it may be, that’s a pretty friggin’ awesome payoff, if you ask me.

Which, of course, you didn’t. But I have to write something, you know.

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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