On Tuesdays at 7 p.m., the Improv Club has command of the Forum. While some clubs and events make use of the big screen the Forum provides, the Improv Club is there for the stage. Not to be confused with Comedy Club or the Underwear Society, the Improv Club is focused on expanding its members improvisation abilities for on and off stage. “It’s skills that students can use every day like when giving speeches or trying to reach out to the community for their art, stuff like that,” says club President Lani Dekker. After getting involved in the club her sophomore year, Dekker, a junior film major, was elected president last semester.
After considering starting the club her freshman year, Dekker was relieved when a fellow student, Alex Slim, started an improv club the following year. “We had maybe six members total throughout the whole year and we just learned improv games,” Dekker says. “And then this year we really cracked down like ‘Alright we’re going to have a show, we’re going to do this right, have voting for officers.’ Everything like that.” The other officers include Vice President Sam Casey, Archivist Osho Levin and Secretary Selena Ontiveros, none of whom are acting majors. “I think mostly we have film majors and studio arts majors and we’ve had a few theater majors but not as many as you’d think,” Dekkar says. “Most of our officers are film majors or studio arts majors.”
The meetings are lively events that start off with warm ups to shake loose the improv muscles. The club demonstrated a variety of warm up games including Zip-Zap-Zop, which is designed to get the players in a quick-response mindset, If You Love Me, Smile, which helps the players practice keeping a straight face on stage, and Hotspot, which lets the players get used to being the center of attention while often making fools of themselves. After about 45 minutes of warming up, the real games began. The classic improv game of Freeze is a favorite among the club members – two actors are on stage and the actors in the audience can yell “Freeze!” at any time and run up to replace one of the actors in the exact same position except with a different scene and characters. “Freeze is pretty fun,” says freshman Aidan Kunze. “When you tell people to freeze and then you just create a scene. I’m honestly not the best at coming up with scenes, I just play off the other person.” Secretary Selena Ontiveros agrees. “A lot can happen depending on the position,” she says. “There are some creative things that happen so it’s great.”
The meetings go from 7 to 9 p.m. and the energy never wavers. After a few rounds of Freeze, the actors move on to Pillars, where two actors are occasionally fed lines by two “pillars” to the side of the stage, and then Good Advice/Bad Advice, where three actors play contestants on a gameshow giving progressively worse advice to audience questions. The members of the club are always eager to volunteer for parts and portray hilarious characters consistently until the meeting is done. The Improv Club provides an opportunity for members to develop new skills they can apply to the lives everyday. “A lot of people in the club have benefitted from improv because they’ve gotten a new confidence when it comes to dealing with people or coming up with something on the spot,” Dekker says. Dekker is a big proponent of the useful skills improv provides, as are the other club officers. “I think it’s really helpful in getting out of your shell,” says Ontiveros. “It really helps with that, like to be social. Because then you’re used to just doing whatever… It’s a confidence booster in a sense.”