By Darren Held

Learning from My Students

by Sonnjea Blackwell

A whole new round of Held2gether improv classes starts tonight, and I for one could not be happier!

I love teaching improv… I think pretty much everybody knows that by now. And there’s something incredibly special about teaching beginning improv and witnessing all the light bulb moments when people suddenly grasp a new concept, or when they come in all excited to tell me about how improv has helped them in their “normal” life, or when somebody who has had the terrified deer-in-the-headlights look for several weeks finally lets go and just has fun. As much as I love doing improv and performing, teaching wins. Hands down.

But there’s something else I love about teaching the beginning classes, and that is: I learn so much every time they go on stage. And I don’t mean in the airy fairy learning about the world and my place in it way. I mean in a concrete, improv way. Yes, beginners make a lot of mistakes. Duh. If they already knew how to do improv, they wouldn’t need a class. But they also have a tendency to be incredibly trusting. They totally commit. They don’t roll their eyes at others’ “mistakes.” They play because it’s fun, or because they’re working to overcome some personal difficulties. They haven’t figured out that improv is fucking hard, and they aren’t overly heady about what comes out of their mouths.

Of course, this is a broad generalization and there are people who don’t commit, or who are too analytical or whatever. But as a whole, the genuine joy and “I don’t know what the heck I’m doing, but I’ma go for it” attitude of beginners is something everyone who does improv should expose themselves to on a regular basis. If you haven’t taken a Level 1 class in a while (or ever), I think it’s about time you did*! It inspires me every time a new class starts. Which happens to be in about 8 hours… Yay!

*There is still space in the Level 1 classes beginning tonight AND on Saturday morning. Find out more here.