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by Darren Held

I like compliments. Oh, come on, people – you know you do, too. We all like compliments.

But sometimes I don’t exactly feel like I deserve them. I mean, sure, if they’re about my biceps I can accept them. But after our last H2G show, a few people complimented me on my improv, believe it or not. Being told I’m funny always makes my day. But one lady said, “You are so brilliant. You are always so calm and make it look so easy. I could never do that.”

Look, I admit I don’t mind being called brilliant. And I am very calm on stage – but that is both good and bad. It’s good in the sense that I never panic in a scene. It’s bad in the sense that I’m just very, very calm: Low energy. Not reactive. You want big energy and huge reactions in improv. So I’m constantly working on balancing my “calm.”

But the part that upset me about the lady’s lovely compliment was the end, where she said I make it look so easy and that she could never do that.

The reason improv looks easy is because there are very specific rules that ANYONE CAN LEARN and that, when adhered to, make scenes work seemingly effortlessly. It has nothing to do with whether or not I’m brilliant… I just know the rules and, at that show at least, I remembered to stick with them so my scenes tended to work without looking like work.

We specifically do shows to demonstrate the fact that everyone can learn improv. Most of the Held2gether troupe folks are forty-something peeps with no acting or performing experience. We discovered improv later in life and, in spite of that, are pretty damn funny.

So please don’t watch us and think, “Oh, I could never do that!” Trust me. If I can do it, you can do it. You weren’t born knowing how to ride a bike or cook a chicken or balance a spreadsheet or whatever. Nobody was born knowing how to do improv, either. But we can teach you. And it’s way more fun than cooking a chicken.

No, really.

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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