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by Darren Held

I was reminded recently by someone who may have meant well, that improv is all about taking risks. And, I’ll just add, so is any art form. Like writing blogs. Or you know, “real” art like painting or sculpting or miming.

Part of what makes art risky is that people all have different tastes and different values that color the way in which they view the art, making it literally impossible to please all of the people all of the time. And when people aren’t pleased by your art, they don’t reward you in the way you’d hoped – with applause or rave reviews or huge sums of money.

What makes improv even riskier than many other forms of artistic expression is that it is created in the moment, with no opportunity to edit clunky phrasing or paint over the ugly patches or mash up the clay and start again. You have one chance to get it “right,” so to speak, and when you’re done, you’re done.

In class, of course, students can explain what their thought process was and the instructor can explain how things went awry. In a performance, you don’t have that luxury. If the audience doesn’t laugh, you don’t get to stand up on the stage and explain to them why the scene was actually funny or where they missed your point.

But – and this is actually the point of my post today, in case you’d begun to wonder if I had one – who cares? I mean, really, who friggin’ cares what random people you don’t even know think? Sure, if nobody laughs, it probably means you have some room to improve and you can proceed accordingly. But the fact is, you pushed yourself out of your comfort zone, you created something out of nothing and you put it out there for everyone to see. YAY YOU!!

That’s what I love about improv, for the record: it teaches you to be bold and brave and do things you never thought you could do. Held2gether improv classes are wonderfully encouraging, safe and supportive places to learn to just DO it. Soon you become comfortable trying stuff and taking bigger and bolder risks in the real world as well, and you learn not to freak out when people don’t always love what you do.

They say if you want big rewards, you gotta take big risks. I say, being able to take big risks IS the big reward. Sure, you can quote me.

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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