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by Darren Held

The very first Held2gether sketch writing class started last Wednesday, and it was fantastic. We did a couple of writing exercises and everyone read what they had written and got feedback from Darren and the class, and nobody cried or anything.

Obviously, sketch comedy is inherently different from improv. And yet, it isn’t. One of the exercises we did involved two people working together, each writing one line of dialogue at a time, and then passing it to the other person to write their line. So it was exactly like improv, only on paper instead of on stage. Naturally, the whole “in the moment” aspect of improv is missing from sketch, but the essence of comedy is pretty much the same.

Some people found the writing class to be much scarier than improv classes. Others felt the opposite. I personally feel more exposed in improv, because I don’t have time to edit myself, while in writing I can take the time to make myself not seem stupid. Okay. Not as stupid.

I also think that writing is an excellent way for people to learn to develop points of view of different characters. So many times in improv, the improvisor trots out a funny voice or accent or whatever and they think that makes a “character” – but without a strong point of view, it’s just a person who talks funny. POV is tricky sometimes. But you have to think, “How does this person see the world, and how do they see themselves in it?” That’s basically it. When you write, you have time to really ponder those questions and put your characters into situations that help you flesh out the answers. When you get used to thinking that way about your written characters, it’ll be easier to do the same thing on the fly in improv scenes.

Anyway, it was an excellent first class and I can’t wait for the next one. Just by having the class, I’ve gotten ideas for so many sketches, which is part of the point of this class – to get used to seeing things in terms of a sketch and to create a lot of material, until writing isn’t so daunting.

Plus, now I have an outlet for all those agendas and pre-planned ideas I don’t get to use in improv. Yay!

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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