Improv Comedy group spreads the laughter
December 5, 2009 7:11 PM
An audience and performers synchronized in a song in a packed lecture hall in the Humanities and Social Sciences building Friday night; followed by a roar of laughter as one more performer is eliminated from an improvisational comedy game called "Role Call."
The game, where performers are pitched names from the audience and have to find rhymes to go with the names on the spot, is one of the many games that were played at an event held by SF State's Improv Nation, which puts on improvised, interactive, competitive, comedy events.
The first part of the show is comprised of two hours' worth of improvisational games and involves active audience participation. The proceedings from the show go towards funding the club's future events and buying needed materials
"I saw one of their shows and thought it looked like one of the funniest things I've ever seen," said 18 year-old Molly Sanchez, who joined Improv Nation this semester. "I love getting to play around with all these fun people. It's pretty much like playing in the cool kids' sandbox."
Games were selected by having audience members throw a tennis-sized Velcro-covered ball at a Velcro board divided into nine boxes. Each box represents a different game filled with challenges for the performers, which are made up of two teams competing against each other for the sole purpose of entertainment.
One game, "Oxygen deprivation" literally involves just that. As some performers stick their heads in a bucket of water, other performers improvise a scene with the pressure of having to tap out the others and switch places. Those who just got tapped out instantly transform into a character from the scene while their faces and hair are dripping water.
The last two hours of the night were used for two, hour-long improvised scenes called "long form".
"This part is like a full, dragged-out TV show," said audience member freshman Cassie Hawkins. "It's the first time I see this style. They're awesome."
"There's so much spirit at SF State," said audience member 20-year-old Cal State East Bay student Randy Flores. "The people at the door were lively and entertaining and that's what drew me in."
Improv Nation was created by sophomore Travis Northup when he was a freshman. Northup said that the club started out with 20 members and has now grown to 94 members.
"I wanted to do improv comedy and give people who have never done it an opportunity to perform," said Northup, who has taught improvisational comedy for five years.
The club meets every Monday evening where Northup holds workshops, teaching members how to come up with stories on the spot. He has also held workshops on other campuses so students there can form their own teams to compete against the Improv Nation. So far he has initiated the idea at Cal State East Bay, San Jose State University, and UC Davis, which has already successfully established a team.
"We create a series of crazy events just to get attention and it makes this school that much more interesting," said Northup.
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