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by Darren Held

I’m sick and tired. Not of anything. I’m just sayin’, I’m sick and I’m tired. I’m using the neti pot like it’s going out of style, and I had pho that was so spicy it made my eyelids sweat in an attempt to sweat out the germs.

More than you needed to know, I suppose. Which is – surprise! – the topic of my post today.

I have noticed in Add Info exercises in H2G improv classes that people sometimes overcompensate. In an effort to get out their assigned portion of the who/what/where/relationship quadrangle, they will spew everything under the sun in their opening line. Like this:

Roger, my brother, thank you so much for spending this afternoon in my living room, helping me make the decorations for Mom and Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary, even though we have been estranged for 7 years and only recently reconnected through Facebook.

Wow. You have basically just had an entire scene with yourself.

Of course, adding information is important, both in an Add Info exercise and in a scene. But you also want to remember the give-and-take. And the letting go of your agenda. And, I dunno, the fact that there is another person on stage with you.

Exercises are designed to achieve certain objectives, so even if it’s possible for you to add all the who/what/where/relationship information totally organically in your opening line, that’s not always the goal. Sometimes the goal of the exercise is to layer info with your partner. Or really focus and be aware of everything you’re saying. Or be forced to give up your agenda. Or match the other person. Or simply to follow instructions.

The good news is, there will always be another chance to do a great Add Info, because Add Info is one of the fundamental drills of improv and we do it all the time. I’ve heard people say they get bored doing the same exercises over and over. I say, if you’re bored, you aren’t doing them right… because in improv, nothing is the same over and over.

Anyway, it’s time for me to take some echinacea and have a nap, and perhaps eat a little snack in a while – I’m thinking grilled cheese and tomato soup. Oh. Wait. You didn’t need that information.

My bad.

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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