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by Darren Held

By Sonnjea Blackwell

My mom always told me never to talk to strangers. Excellent advice for a five year old. The problem is, I didn’t know there was an expiration date on that rule and I never got over not talking to strangers. So I grew up to be shy and awkward in social situations. Awww, poor me.

I do have a point. And, before you think you’re all that in the smarty-pants department, my point is NOT that improv changed all that. It did, of course, but that’s not my point. Ha.

My point is that now not only do I talk to strangers, I even look forward to playing with them! We often have a Held2gether drop-in improv class for anyone who has completed the Intro class on up. The drop-ins are always super fun because they are TRUE improv – since you never know who’s going to show up, you literally can’t count on anything and preplanning would be even more of an exercise in futility than normal.

See, when you play with people as long as some of us have played together, you learn to count on certain things. I don’t know what Andy is going to say, but I know it’s going to be loaded with information. So maybe if I’m doing a scene with Andy I’ll focus on something else, like character or emotion because I can trust 100% that he will take care of the information. If I’m doing a scene with Robert, I know that he’ll be ultra-high energy so I can do a quieter character to balance it out and save my voice.

But at the drop-ins, I haven’t even met some of these people before, so I don’t know what their strengths and weaknesses are. It means I can’t take anything for granted and I have to push myself to be my best in every area. It’s an awesome challenge. Last month, I had a rough night at the drop-in, which is okay too. Class is about trying stuff and feeling safe enough to make mistakes, and Held2gether classes always feel totally safe and encouraging, even when it’s a group of total strangers.

So if you have trouble talking to people – strangers or otherwise – consider a Held2gether improv comedy class in Long Beach. We can help you with that. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go play in traffic.

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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