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by Darren Held

Among the many reasons I’ve been unable to write brilliant improv blogs lately is the fact that I’m busy memorizing lines.

Turns out, sketch is very different from improv. There are scripts and lines and props and costumes and sound effects and the whole friggin’ nine yards. Which, in my book, adds up to acting. So far in my illustrious improv career, I’ve managed to avoid the “A” word pretty successfully. Of course, there are characters and emotions and an element of acting in improv. But as my friend Paul says, it’s really playing pretend.

By the time you’ve got lines to learn and props to purchase and white-trash-girl costumes to, uh, get from your own closet because those aren’t really “costumes” so much as “regular clothes,” you have left the arena of playing make-believe and are well into the realm of acting.

It’s not so bad. I actually have a great memory and can memorize pretty quickly, so that part isn’t too struggly. The sketches we’ve written are pretty funny, though, so I have to really work on not laughing in the middle of my own scenes. And the whole concept of blocking and moving around deliberately in conjunction with words coming out of my mouth is a bit daunting. In improv, of course you want to move with purpose – but since the words aren’t preplanned, neither is the movement. I’m coordination-challenged, so orchestrating movement to coincide with dialog is like walking and chewing gum for me: difficult at best, borderline dangerous at worst.

Anyway, that’s my take on sketch vs. improv, and white trash clothes vs. costumes. Your mileage may vary.

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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