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by Darren Held

It’s been a rough week. What? I know it’s only Tuesday; I don’t judge you when you’re having a hard week, do I? Part of the problem is that there’s very little improv happening this week. Anyway. As usual when I’m having any sort of mental meltdown, I vented to Lisa who was all nice and non-judgy and everything and wished me a day filled with “sunshine and rainbows and unicorns.” Which reminded me: unicorns!

I know some people (you know who you are) don’t think unicorns exist. Um, whatever. But in a recent H2G improv show, Andy, Co-Dependent was labeled a half human/half unicorn mutant, and he played a very convincing half unicorn. In fact, I had trouble believing he wasn’t a pure-bred unicorn, that’s how committed he was.

I’ve recently been a human/otter mutant as well as a human/gerbil mutant. And what I’ve learned from playing and watching these mutants is that it’s easier to take on a character if it’s some kind of animal. Or a blender. Duh. That’s because your brain isn’t all judgy the way it gets when you try to be a fully human character: “That’s a British accent? Really?” Or “Uh, hello, hookers have bigger boobs.” Or “Seriously, again with the ditzy chick?” You can probably think of one or two things about your mutant character that sort of make them that critter – like my otter was breaking open abalone on her chest, and the gerbil was gnawing on everything and everyone and had little rodenty hands. The audience picks up those cues and gets it, and it works. And it’s really easy to commit because your brain doesn’t judge everything you do as a unicorn or a blender or whatever, because it really doesn’t know any better.

Naturally, the goal is to have your brain not be judgy of your human characters as well. And of course, Held2gether improv classes are a big help. But depending on how well-developed your self-judgy instincts are, they may take some time to overcome. So in the meantime, why not give your human character an animal trait? It’ll take your mind off your bad British accent, and audiences love seeing people with quirky characteristics.

Now I’m gonna gather up some sparkles to take to the unicorns so they can spin me a rainbow. Cuz that’s just how they roll.

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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