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by Darren Held

The other day Andy, Co-Dependent asked me (rhetorically, I’m sure) why cats like to sleep in a basket of clean laundry. I replied, “To get to the other side.”

What?!? I know it’s lame, but it wasn’t an improv scene, so I’m allowed to go for the joke if I want. Even if it’s a bad one.

You’ll see in a moment how my smart-assedness was repaid. Believe what they say about karma, people.

Anyway, today was the much-ballyhooed Toastmasters speech contest. I entered the Table Topics portion of the contest, which is where you get a question and talk about it for 1 minute. My friend and experienced Toastmaster Walt encouraged me by saying the goal of the first speech is “do not faint and do not die.” I figured I could achieve those goals fairly easily, so I added a couple of my own: “Don’t blush, don’t stammer, don’t get that weird quavery-voice-thing, don’t freeze and, um, don’t die.” I figured in an emergency, I could take Lisa’s “Marcia Brady” advice and picture everyone in their underwear.

So I drove over to the contest and I chatted with some of the people there and then we had our contestant briefing and drew numbers to see who would go first. I drew the first slot, and about 10 minutes later it was time for me to go do my Table Topic.

The Toastmaster introduced me, I shook his hand, people clapped and then he asked me the question. “Why did the chicken cross the road?”

I was honestly so delighted with that question, I could have gone on for an hour with the story of the chicken who saw what life had to offer but was afraid to take that leap of faith until finally, one day, he did and it was better than he’d ever imagined. But I didn’t. I talked happily for about 1 1/2 minutes, without blushing, stammering, quavering, freezing, fainting or dying.

And I didn’t have to picture anyone in their underwear. I mean, I did picture a couple of them that way, but that was just for fun. You know how I roll, people.

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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