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by Darren Held

Here’s a little known fact: improv can help you lie better.

Okay, look. I’m not advocating lying. And in most ways, improv promotes more virtuous traits, such as honesty, listening and teamwork. But there is a time and a place for everything, and sometimes you gotta make shit up.

Let’s say, hypothetical speaking, that you told your friend you couldn’t go to the Justin Bieber concert with him because you were feeling ill. (Just the prospect of going to a Justin Bieber concert makes me feel a little queasy, but that’s another blog post.) Then, instead of tucking yourself into bed with Nyquil and The Breakfast Club, you go to your favorite bar with some non-Bieber-fever-peeps. Naturally, as Murphy’s Law would have it, the Bieberite shows up after the show to find you, not sick at all and downing martinis with abandon.

We’ll ignore the fact that there’s a good chance you’re not concerned about maintaining a friendship with a legal adult who attends Justin Bieber concerts, and pretend that you do want to keep this relationship. WTF do you say to redeem yourself?

You could go with the obvious – and not at all believable – miraculous recovery story. “Dude. I took the Nyquil, and I felt better. But by then you had already left for the concert and there was no way to meet up with you.” Um, lame.

Or you could use the skills you learned in H2G improv classes and become an instant expert: “Oh, Bieberite, I’m so glad you’re here so you can tell us all about the show! You know, I was so devastated to miss it that I was determined to get better in time to join you. So I went on the internet and Googled typhoid fever remedies, because that’s what I had. Anyway, it’s often fatal but one thing that seems to put typhoid into remission is the combination of dim lighting and distilled potatoes. I didn’t have any potatoes at home, but since vodka is made from potatoes, I figured a martini would work. Anyway, it’s because the low light causes your corneas to constrict, while the vodka increases endorphin exoplasmic recession, which results in the spontaneous introspection of the typhus virus.”

At this point, the Bieber-peeper will start to wonder if this might be true. There is so much factual-sounding information, that it seems unlikely you could make it up. But don’t take any chances. Make sure to finish strong. “I felt better almost immediately and could have met you in time for the show, but unfortunately, typhoid fever is highly contagious for 7.75 hours after it has gone into remission. The only way not to start an epidemic like Typhoid Mary is to remain in a dimly lit area with plenty of distilled potatoes so that everyone who comes into contact with the carrier will have the necessary immunity to stave off the disease. As much as I wanted to see Justin sing, I couldn’t in good conscience subject him – or you – to the grim possibility of death by typhoid fever.”

Thanks to your improv skills, your friend is now thanking you for being so considerate in thinking of Justin’s well-being instead of being mad that you bailed on the show.

Of course, on the off chance that you don’t have friends who try to drag you to pop concerts, you can always use your instant expert skills to impress a date, convince the boss that you’re smarter than the other guy who’s going up for the same promotion or explain to your neighbor why mowing your lawn every week is actually bad for the environment, the economy and U.S-China relations.

You’re welcome.

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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