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by Darren Held

I try to keep this blog all about improv but sometimes I just have to make it all about me. Like the time I climbed up on my roof in the rain. Or, you know, when I went off on the puppet people.

In any event, I’m feeling a “let’s talk about Sonnjea” post coming on, so fair warning.

Lisa informed me this morning that I would make a lousy accountant. Nate told me the other day that I looked like a trucker. Darren mentioned a week or so ago that my housekeeping skills were akin to those of a swamp dweller.

I know, right? I hope your friends are nicer to you.

Without debating the relative accuracy of these statements or the context in which they were delivered, I think we can all agree that they were not exactly complimentary. And in real life, if people tell you such things, there’s a tendency to become defensive, angry or sad. You might post something on Craigslist looking for new friends. You might drink some vodka. You might order extra fries at the truck stop. Chances are, you won’t channel your hurt feelings into cleaning the house, but you never know.

Fortunately, I don’t spend a lot of time in real life. I spend about 90% of my time in improv life, and in improv life even soul-crushing-gems like the ones my “friends” offer are gifts. Any kind of label in improv is something you can use to define your character and help find the big “what” in your scene.

  • You’d make a lousy accountant: Awesome. Maybe I’m bad at math, maybe I’m distracted by shiny objects, maybe I’m the opposite of detail-oriented. Maybe I drive a red car. In any event, I know I’m probably not too bright, and it’s always incredibly fun to play stupid.**
  • You look like a trucker: Nice. Now I know how to stand, walk, talk and scratch myself. I probably have a smokin’-n-drinkin’ voice, and there’s an excellent chance I swear a lot. A super-masculine woman (which may or may not mean lesbian) could have a hilarious point of view. Remember, I just look like a trucker… Imagine the fun of this woman working at Victoria’s Secret. Or a strip club.
  • Your place looks like a swamp: Fab. I’d love to happen upon lost things in that location to use in the scene. Empty jugs. Old tires. Little children. Saying someone is messy or a slob is good. Saying they’re like swamp people is amazing.

So when your friends tell you stuff you’d rather not hear, don’t let it get you down. Just file those labels away and use them in your next improv scene! If you don’t have an improv class to process that stuff in, then it’s high time you did! The next round of H2G Level 1 Improv Classes begins soon… sign up before it’s too late.

**If and only if you still add expert information. You can’t not know stuff. Playing dumb is tricky, because you have to still be an “expert” in your own special way and be committed to your own understanding of things.

At least I think so. After all, I’m not too bright, so I could be totally wrong.

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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