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by Darren Held

By Sonnjea Blackwell

We don’t want to give you the impression that Held2gether improv performers are insane, but I’m still stuck on the soccer mom thing (we even named an upcoming show Confessions of a Soccer Mom), especially as it relates to swearing and, um, prostitution.

I blame Lisa, who said our show at Hot Java on Saturday was fantastic but could’ve used some more swearing. And that there’s something inherently funny in seeing one of my calm, sedate characters throwing out a “well-placed f-bomb.”

Anyway. For those of you who haven’t seen me, I’m the blonde girl in our NoH8 photo. Just for reference. Also, I have no children and am not a fan of soccer. However, there is evidently something about the way I look that makes people giggle when I say bad words. At Groundlings, I started out working on a “nice” character since my go-to character is rather bitchy. Clearly it worked, because after a few weeks when I finally reverted to my usual bitch character, everyone was totally shocked that I even knew the f-word and they all fell about the place laughing so hard.

And in Held2gether Level 2 class last week, we did this labeling exercise where one person gives the other all these character traits. Naturally, Barney described me as a hooker. In the past, I’ve also been labeled a pole dancer. Just the labels crack everyone else up, because they seem so against-type. “Ooooh, I know! Let’s have the soccer-mom-looking-woman play a hooker! Hahahahaha!” Once someone asked me if I could “stand like you’re stupid.” Really? Do less intelligent people stand differently than smart people? And, um, what makes you think I fall into the smart category any more than I fall into the soccer mom category?

I think what I’m getting at here is that, however you see yourself, there’s a good chance others see you differently. And if you can play with both of those images and have fun with the stereotypes, you can start to see yourself in a new light and push out of some of those boxes that we all put ourselves in. And there’s no better way to push yourself (safely and gently, of course) out of your comfort zone than by taking an improv class right here in Long Beach! (No, I’m not suggesting you actually become a hooker. Sheesh. Try pole dancing first and see how you like it, then think about expanding your horizons. There’s no need to rush.)

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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