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by Darren Held

By Sonnjea Blackwell

One of the things you have to do in improv is justify stuff. You can throw out weird or seemingly-random information, but you have to justify it in terms of the emotions and everything else that’s going on in the scene, otherwise you just look like crazy people. If the audience can’t believe the information, they won’t be invested in the scene or the characters or anything and then they’ll get up and go to the bathroom or order a latte or make a phone call or smoke or… You get the idea. They WON’T be sitting in their chairs drooling with laughter, which is what we as improvisors want them to do. Well, maybe not so much the drool.

Last night at Held2gether’s Level 2 Improv Class, we had to justify stuff. This, like everything else in improv, is a skill that can be learned. Unlike everything else in improv, this is a skill that comes naturally to me. I can justify ANYTHING, just ask my husband.

Sonnjea: “I think we should go out to dinner tonight.”
Husband: “Why? We have food in the refrigerator we can cook.”
Sonnjea: “It’s Tuesday. I have class the next two nights, then Friday it’ll take you forever to get home on the vanpool so we won’t feel like going out. Saturday night I have a show. And Sunday is, well, Sunday. We have to go tonight.”
Husband: “Do you hear a buzzing sound?”

Bad Sonnjea: “Let’s not work today. It’s sunny.”
Good Sonnjea: “It’s southern California. It’s always sunny. If we don’t work, we don’t get paid.”
Bad Sonnjea: “If we take today off to bask in the sun, we’ll feel rejuvenated and we’ll work twice as hard tomorrow and get even more work done. Studies show that rejuvenated workers are much more creative. We’re creative types; we have to rejuvenate or we’ll die. So really, it’s a matter of life and death.”
Good Sonnjea: “Well — “
Bad Sonnjea: “Now where’s that bottle of vodka?”

Right. Now I have to go to lunch. Um, yes, really. It’s Friday. Tomorrow I’m working, and Sunday I’ll be in San Francisco and Monday I have a meeting and Tuesday I have to pick up a friend from the airport. So I have to go to lunch. Now. Sorry I can’t finish this post, but I’m sure you understand.

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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