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by Darren Held

Back in the 90s there was this little TV show called Seinfeld that was, ostensibly, about nothing. Of course, that’s not entirely accurate because if it had actually been just 4 people sitting at a booth in a diner literally doing nothing, I think NBC might have cancelled it a bit sooner.

But though they weren’t exactly nothing, the show’s themes did usually deal with really mundane, boring, day-to-day things we all deal with: parking, idiots at the car rental counter, soup, muffins, shrinkage. Okay, we don’t all deal with that last one.

I’m gonna tie this in to improv, I swear.

The thing is, most people found Seinfeld pretty damn funny. Which would seem to indicate that there is humor to be had in even ordinary, every day situations. You don’t need zombie attacks or knifeplay in the bedroom or feline child surrogates to make a scene interesting.

What makes a scene interesting is finding out why today is the big day. What is happening between you two (or however many) right now that makes us want to watch you? In other words, what is the Big What in this scene?

  • You’ve had it with your spouse losing the car in the parking garage, and you call her out on it.
  • You’ve been coming to the same soup place for three years and you finally get the courage to ask the soup lady out on a date.
  • You confess to your coworker at the car rental place that the reason the reservations are always effed up is because you are illiterate.

Any of those “big what”s will inevitably lead to some huge emotional reaction from your scene partner. And voîla! A scene!

And guess what? If your scene is kind of seriously about nothing and you can’t figure out what the “big what” is, have an emotional reaction anyway! Just having a change of emotion will shift the gears and help you find something to make the scene about.

Why not try it? If I’m wrong, you can always become a zombie.

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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