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by Darren Held

One of the things that makes improv unique is that the audience helps create it. We start with your suggestions. That means you have to have suggestions, whether it’s a show or a class. People tend to be a little shy with suggestions, but it’s actually pretty fun to watch people create a hilarious scene out of YOUR suggestion.

Holler ’em out! Be loud! If we say more specific or keep ’em coming, don’t be offended – we get certain suggestions A LOT, so we try to vary it up. Here are a few hints to help you offer suggestions that might actually get used (or at least heard) at a show or class.

  • Use your outside voice. Just holler that suggestion out like you’re the champion hog caller from back home.
  • Be specific with locations. If we say “Where are they?” we mean what is their IMMEDIATE surroundings. Ireland is too broad. Dublin, while admittedly more specific than Ireland is not exactly immediate. A dirty Irish pub is a good location.
  • Brothers, sisters, lovers and exes are commonly used relationships. Also, for some reason, “cousins” means “blood relatives who sleep together and breed inappropriately,” so we don’t need to do that in every show. Bandmates, personal shopper and client, American Idol rivals, quilting bee members are all suggestions we don’t get 30 times a week.
  • For activities, we’re ideally looking for something the players can be doing with their hands. Believe it or not, taxidermy is a suggestion for an activity pretty often. Laundry is another common suggestion, leading me to believe that after people stuff dead animals, they need to wash their clothes. That makes sense. Sanding pinewood derby cars, sorting recyclables and preparing a tea ceremony are suggestions we don’t get frequently.

I’m not telling you WHAT to suggest; that would be pre-planning, and we don’t pre-plan. I’m just giving you an idea of what types of things are less common without veering into the realm of crazy, like “they’re straining beetle wings” or what have you.

Oh, and you can practice your newfound suggesting skills at our two upcoming improv shows: Last Laugh Saturday, on January 26th and Friday Night Live: Uncorked & Unscripted on February 1st! 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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