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by Darren Held

Tonight is the night we’ve come to know and love as “Specialty Night,” a Held2gether Improv Level 2 exclusive, and I don’t know about anybody else, but I can’t wait!

Specialty Night occurs in week 5 of the 6 week series of classes, and it’s the class where we get to address our weaknesses. I suppose you could say we have the opportunity to do that every week in class, but Specialty Night forces the issue for those of us who would sometimes prefer to pretend we have no weaknesses.

After four weeks of class, Darren has a good idea of what each student is currently struggling with, and he develops an exercise designed specifically to help each person address that big issue. It’s an incredible amount of work for him, tailoring custom exercises for every person in class, but the results are so tangible and immediate that he’s willing to put the effort into it. FYI, that kind of individual attention is part of what makes H2G unique. Just sayin’.

What I love about Specialty Night is that the exercises are so focused, it’s virtually impossible to rely on your go-to, fallback, safe mode. One of the things that happens in Specialty Night is that people can’t worry about being funny, which is often the thing that is holding them back. When you are doing an exercise that pushes you out of your comfort zone in a very specific way, it’s hard for your brain to also try to be funny, so you let go of that. And in the process, you learn that you CAN do whatever it is you thought you couldn’t do.

I have experienced 2 1/2 years worth of Specialty Nights, and I have seen so many epiphanies, breakthroughs, aha moments – whatever you want to call ’em – where people have, as a result of one exercise, taken their improv to a whole new level. I readily admit it’s not comfortable, but it can still be fun if you embrace the challenge and just decide up front that you’re going to give it everything you have and trust that the exercise is exactly what you need right now to help get you over your current stumbling block.

Remember, though, the epiphanies, breakthroughs and aha moments are up to YOU. Darren can only do so much, and the best-designed exercise in the world won’t help you if you don’t accept the challenge to push yourself and go in with the intention of learning what you need to learn from it.

There’s also a Level 2 class on Friday mornings, and they have Specialty Day to look forward to tomorrow. It’s almost exactly like Specialty Night, except it’s in the daytime. Duh.

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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