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by Darren Held

A funny thing happened in improv class last week. I know, weird, right?

Barbi and I started a long form scene, and it had the potential to be incredibly horrible. Barbi got confused, and labeled herself confused. I yes, anded that by labeling her slow. As in short-bus slow. And since I was her boss and what she was confused about was how to do her work, it seemed only natural that I should teach her.

Wow, about the only things we didn’t do wrong in that scene were to ask questions or deny stuff.

But (and this is the funny part), we were both completely aware of the pit we had dug ourselves and we just stayed calm and got ourselves out of it in about two sentences. I told “Tabitha” that I didn’t have time in my day to teach her how to sharpen pencils, and that I trusted her to end up with sharp pencils – however she did it, from gnawing them to whittling to using a sharpener. She confessed that she was 32 years old and had lived a completely sheltered life until this very job, and nobody had trusted her before. All of a sudden, this scene was about relationship. Yay!

Since it was long form, we had awesome support, and we got back story about her sheltered life, and the Danger-Danger book I made for her, and we learned that she ended up with my job, while I had to move in with her parents as a result.

I am not in any way implying that this was the most fabulous improv ever. I’m simply saying being aware of the rules, as well as the fact that you are breaking them, and staying calm and connected with your partner, will take you a long way in creating a decent scene. We didn’t panic, we didn’t bail, and we didn’t start throwing out bizarro information about aliens or hummus or Tim Tebow.

And in real life, when a situation goes wonky, staying calm and being willing to work together with the others involved is a good start towards fixing it. I keep telling you improv will help with real life, peeps. I wouldn’t lie about that.

Of course, if the situation stays wonky, you can always start hollering weird facts about Tim Tebow. It’s good to have a Plan B.

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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