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by Darren Held

By Sonnjea Blackwell

Darren said something in the Saturday beginning improv class last week that was really interesting. I don’t mean to make that sound noteworthy or anything – Darren is always saying interesting things in classes. That’s pretty much his job, you know. And he’s quite brilliant at it. I just meant, he phrased something in a way I hadn’t heard or thought about before, and it stuck with me. So now I’m going to share it with you, as I am wont to do.

He was explaining the rules of agreement to the new students, and in stressing the importance of those rules he said something along the lines of, “The fun of watching improv is that it looks effortless. But the reason it looks effortless is because it’s based on very structured, specific rules.”

In other words, it’s not effortless. Let’s compare improv to baseball, since that’s an analogy I haven’t annoyed you with before. If the baseball players didn’t follow specific rules, there’d be guys running all over the field with bats, balls flying overhead willy-nilly and runners crashing into each other. You just can’t play a game without rules. But with rules, baseball runs smoothly… and it looks effortless.

Same with improv. When the players play by the rules, improv is funny as hell and looks like it just “happened.” But it’s really NOT magic. Like baseball, improv is a game that can be learned. And improv doesn’t involve any (alleged) illegal performance enhancing drugs! So come to the 1/2 day Intro to Improv Workshop and we’ll teach you the rules of the game. (NOTE: Please leave your bats and gloves at home.)

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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