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by Darren Held

See, I’m not the only one who does improv:sports analogies! Check out Beth Cunningham’s thoughts!

My worst improv scene to date was during a performance and it was going so poorly that I felt like I was dying on stage…”death by improv” if you will. Everything went wrong…confusion…denial…odd information…to survive, I was pulling out every emotional reaction in the book, barely treading water; I was just trying to get through it and be clapped out. I wish that I could say I used my sucky-ness as fuel to do better in my next show scene…but I didn’t. I let it get to me, self-hated, and had a very off night.

We’ve all been there before. Sometimes an improv scene is magical—like the stars aligned and the scene is simply golden…and other times…it sucks.
A wise improv guru once told me that improv is like baseball; it’s impossible to bat 1.000 and if you’re batting .500 you’re doing damn spectacular. Just like in baseball—each “at bat” you potentially could strikeout or hit it out of the park. And some days, you’re just going to have to settle for bunting.

david ortiz and improv

It might be a homer… or a foul ball… or a strikeout. But there’s always another at bat.

The point is this—in improv, you WILL strike out…a lot…but the last sucky scene is not an indicator of how well your next scene will go, nor does it demonstrate your worth as an improviser. Just like when I watch a Red Sox game; I’ll see David Ortiz strikeout at his first at bat, and then hit a home run later in the game. It’s important to be able to say to yourself “well, that sucked”, and after that… move on. Acknowledge the sucky-ness…evaluate why you had a suckish scene…learn from it…but then…Brush. It. Off. Because, truthfully, we all have those scenes that suck from time to time and that’s ok!

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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