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by Darren Held

I hate April Fool’s Day. Yes, I’ma tell you why.

It’s stupid. People go around all day making up elaborate lies to fool their friends and family, and to what end? To make their friends and family feel stupid. I don’t want to feel stupid. And I don’t want to make you feel stupid, either.

Improv is the opposite of April Fool’s Day. Whatever you say in your scene MUST be true; there is no lying or subterfuge or sarcasm in improv. You say exactly what you mean. I like that. Everybody’s on the same page, and nobody feels stupid.

Not only that, but improv is all about building trust. Sure it’s hard the first day of a new class, when nobody knows anybody else, and you’re suddenly thrust onstage with strangers and asked to do exercises that put you on the spot and make you uncomfortable. The only way people can do that is to trust each other, to whatever extent possible. We make the environment as encouraging and supportive as humanly possibly, but no matter how warm and fuzzy we make the class, we can’t force people to trust each other. You know how people learn to trust each other? By not making each other feel stupid, that’s how.

Of course, we do silly, ridiculous things in improv; that’s a large part of the fun. And yes, sometimes in the course of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, you end up doing something that you think must make you look stupid. Yay you! When you can start to feel comfortable feeling stupid, you are on the way to doing amazing improv… because that means you aren’t judging yourself and you’re ready to fully commit. It’s incredibly empowering to push yourself and allow yourself to feel stupid; the key is that you are making that choice and nobody else is forcing it on you.

So please don’t foist your April Fool’s Day pranks on me; if your goal is to see me look stupid, no worries – I can pretty much promise to do that all on my own, without any outside interference. Thanks.

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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