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Improv groups to host shows, work together for comedy

The four improv groups at the University will soon host shows on a regular basis.

Sketch Director of The Plastic Shatners Mark Hobrath said the group had auditions a few weeks ago and has started having rehearsals last week.

Hobrath explained The Plastic Shatners are the “premier” short-form improv group on campus, meaning they play more games like what one might see on “Whose Line is it Anyway.”

During the fall semester, the group performs shows every other week, including joint shows with the other groups on campus.

Director of Bad Genetics Liz Robertson said long-form improv is the lesser known form of what people typically think of.

“We get a one-word suggestion and do a live monologue and then we create three acts based off of three different monologues,” Robertson said. “They’re like plays without scripts.”

Hobrath said his group gets invited to events in the spring, such as Animarathon, which is hosted in the union and free to the public.

After making the team for The Plastic Shatners, Hobrath said his entire life changed.

“Improv changed everything,” he said. “Everything that has become of me at this point has been a result of doing improv going into my third year now. I’ve tattooed improv on my body literally.”

Robertson tried out for The Plastic Shatners and was cast onto Bad Genetics, which originated as a B team, but then formed into a different long-form team.

“It was really exciting, when I found out it was this new experimental form of comedy,” Robertson said.

She explained how doing improv is not about being funny, but creating a relatable scene, producing something funny.

“All of us who have tried out are funny people in conversation, and it has never been about being funny on stage,” she said. “There is just something naturally funny about people trying to pull phrases and just throwing things out there and it’s just hilarious to watch.”

Other improv groups on campus include No Name Basis and Women in Comedy.

No Name Basis started last fall by sophomore Vincent Gibbs out of the arts village in Kreischer.

Director of No Name Basis Maddie Allen said the team practiced the first semester and did joint shows with the other improv groups the second semester.

She said doing joint shows with other University groups was intimidating at first, but eventually realized they were all there for the same reason.

“They have the same roots as us,” she said. “We’re all there because we like to be funny.”

No Name Basis shows are an hour and a half long of short form and this year the group is experimenting with sketch and stand up comedy, she said.

“A lot of our members are interested in doing other types of comedy,” Allen said. “We’re trying to figure out who’s best at what and who wants to do what.”

The group started without a name and Allen said the members thought the best way to build its audience was to have them pick a name.

“We don’t have a whole lot of history yet, but that’s what this year is all about,” she said.

Women In Comedy originated last fall as an event to raise money for the Safe Center.

Co-Director and Member of Bad Genetics Katie Franklin said a few of the organizers of the event decided to turn it into an ongoing group.

The group performs both long and short form improv, along with sketch comedy.

Many of the members are involved with other improv groups and this makes Women In Comedy unique, Franklin said.

“We really like it because a lot of these girls are coming in with no improv background,” she said. “Especially since we’re such a new group, it’s great just to have people with experience to help things run smoothly.”

The team will have a new name at the Women In Comedy event, she said.

“It should be obvious to people that we are women and we are doing comedy,” she said. “We want people to come to our shows and realize that we are a group of talented, funny people, who happen to be women.”

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