By Will Gorman, Staff Writer
If you’ve ever wanted to witness college students act out unconventional scenarios, such as how one shaves in the underworld with Sriracha for shaving cream using only gibberish and hand motions, the show for you already happened this past weekend.
That’s the nature of improv comedy — every aspect of every show is made up on the spot, so even if you’ve missed one performance, you can still witness jokes being made for the first (and last) time during another performance.
Sketched Out, Miami’s improv group, recently held their first shows of the semester on Oct. 28 and 29 in Benton Hall.
During the Saturday night show, each member of the group dressed in their Halloween costumes, which ranged from a lifeguard to Edna Mode from “The Incredibles.”
Titled “American Horror Story: White House,” the show featured improv sketches and games being played on stage.
When coming up with a title for the show, the Sketched Out members “have title brainstorming emails,” said freshman member Kate Rigazio. “If any of us have a name and an idea for a poster, we just send it to the group.”
While a fake debate was among these different activities, politics wasn’t the only topic skewered by the group.
One activity was titled “The Dating Game” and featured a female member of the team leaving the room while different roles were assigned to the “bachelors” — male members of the group who were to imitate Abraham Lincoln, a lamp and Shrek.
When the lady looking for love asked what the three single gentlemen’s ideal dates were, Lincoln replied “nowhere near a theater.” The lamp said that anything worked, as long as she could “come on over and turn [him] on.” Shrek announced he would come up with something, although he “ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed.”
As is commonplace for improv shows, the show featured heavy audience interaction to truly produce organic, spontaneous comedic situations. Nearly every element of the stories told, jokes made and games played by the team was a result of a noun or verb shouted out by an audience member.
It’s not always smooth sailing for these comedians when presented with absurd scenarios at random.
“That’s something I was really nervous about,” Rigazio said about on-the-spot comedy, having come into the group with no prior improv experience. “There are days where I completely flub.”
But at its core, she said it’s “just reaction … [and] it’s never hard to play off of” the other members.
Audience interaction was enthusiastic throughout the show. At one point, a tongue-in-cheek dispute broke out over whether the group was to tell on-the-spot jokes about 185 blenders walking into a bar or 185 whisks.
Eventually, the group invited an audience member on stage. The intention was to gather enough details about the guest’s day-to-day life to be able to act out their worst nightmare.
“I love seeing people, fans, come to every show, or even every performance,” Sketched Out sophomore Olivia Prosser said. “I love seeing familiar faces.”
According to member Scott Lentz, Prosser “really drove the team creatively this semester.” Prosser also acted as the emcee for the show.
The team practices twice a week, and it began the semester focusing more on long-form improv games, which feature all of Sketched Out’s members acting out an entire narrative together. These provide an opportunity to build an ability to work off of each other.
The second half of the show featured one of these games. Via audience suggestion, this wound up being the unpredictable tale of a peasant leading a revolt against his country’s king, a former grade-school classmate, in order to be given back the country’s recently repossessed cows.
The long-form sketches are some of the most popular among the group. Freshman member Noah Bertrand, who played one of the main characters in the narrative sketch that night, voiced his affinity for these collaborative efforts.
“The whole team comes together,” Bertrand said. “Anyone can add what they want to it. Everyone gets to participate.”
Luckily, the group gets along well enough to mesh effectively when it comes to group comedy.
“They’re a great group of kids,” Rigazio said. “They were so warm and welcoming [to me]. It’s been so much fun.”
Sketched Out is hosting their next shows Nov. 11 and 12, with the title and location yet to be determined.