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by Darren Held

I have gotten some incredibly nice compliments from students recently, saying that the way I critique their scenes in the intro to improv class is “encouraging, yet instructive,” “lovingly constructive” and “sneaky.”

Yeah, I needed a little explanation on that last one as well. Turns out, they meant that I say something nice, then sneak in the constructive criticism, then say something else nice.

First of all, thank you for the lovely feedback. It’s nice to know I’m not a total fuck up.

Secondly, I really have to pass those thanks on to Darren and my mother. I learned from being critiqued by Darren 1 million times, give or take, that you hear the bad stuff much better if you’ve been buttered up first. And I learned from my mom that if I don’t have anything nice to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. Which I always thought was just silly, because I have to talk sometimes. Sheesh.

Anyway. I’ve studied improv at other places, and they aren’t all like Held2gether. Since our focus is the whole improv for life thing, we really aim to make improv as fun and enjoyable as it can possibly be while still keeping in mind that it is a class, and people are paying us to teach them stuff. That means we tell you what worked in every scene or exercise, as well as what didn’t. And if you got up on the stage and opened your mouth, well then, that’s one success right there. Yay!

Of course, learning any new skill involves some frustrations, and we’re not promising otherwise. Hell, I’m frustrated in just about every class I take. I’m not a big fan of failing, FYI. I’m a HUGE fan of being willing to fail, but the actual failing kinda sucks. The fact that I’m frustrated when I fail is a good sign – it means that I’m still trying, that I still want to get better, that I will prove I can do this.

So we’ll continue to be encouraging, constructive and sneaky – but I hope we’re a bit frustrating from time to time as well. You’re welcome.

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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