How to Improv(e) Your Life

By Bailey DiSanto ‘21

Herald Contributor

You’ve seen the posters. You’ve heard people talking about the shows. But you still don’t know what Improv Club is.

You’re not alone. So here’s a crash course on what exactly HWS Improv Club does and why you should attend their next show.

What is improv? Improv is short for improvisation. It’s a form of live theatre where the characters, plot and dialogue are made up on the spot. There are rules that accompany particular skits —one HWS favorite is Bachelorette, where the Bachelorette must guess what characters the contestants are playing. However, there are no scripts, and no pre-planning on the part of the actors.

David Pickei ’21 is a third-year veteran of the HWS Improv Club. He shared that the club’s function is “to act as a form of entertainment and comedy” for the audience. “We [the club members] just kind of have fun and joke around.”

Improv is popular due to the low stakes of rehearsals and shows. Compared to the standard theatrical plays and musicals, where actors dedicate hours of practice both on and off stage, improv requires no preparation. Members show up to rehearsal, play some games, then go home. And a show is no different: members show up to Albright Auditorium, warm up, play some games (this time, in front of an audience), then go home.

When asked why he joined HWS Improv, Pickei highlighted the low-stakes aspect of the club. “I’ve always liked to make jokes and have fun,” he said. Three years in, Pickei looks forward to weekly meetings as a way to “destress during the week.”

Hosting shows is one way that the club shares their fun with the larger HWS community. HWS Improv aims for two to three shows per semester. Each show promises an original lineup, because, of course, improvisation implies an element of “if you blink, you’ll miss it.”

If you attend a show, you can expect the following: two actors at the door asking for you to pick up a pencil and write something, a mashup of vines playing on the large screen as you walk in, and an hour of uncomplicated tomfoolery. And it’s all over with in time for you to go out and begin the main course of your night.

“I think it’s definitely better than nothing,” says Pickei when explaining why students should attend Improv shows. “It’s free, it’s no cost, and you can come at any time.” Yes, you read that correctly: the doors don’t close after the actors take the stage. The low stakes extend to audience members as well. If you’re running late, don’t worry! There’s no long-winded exposition that, if you miss it, you lose the chance to understand anything at all. In improv, skits last only three to four minutes, and actors start from scratch with each new skit. So if you miss one skit, you’ll be at no disadvantage for the next one.

Still not convinced that you should attend an HWS Improv show? Pickei says that nineteenth-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche says you should.

According to Nietzsche, normal people will navigate life through “distraction, anchoring, and isolation.” Attending an Improv show can provide you with all three: distract yourself from homework by anchoring yourself to an isolated chair in the back row of Albright Auditorium.

HWS Improv will host its first show on Friday, Oct. 25. The show will begin at 7 p.m. in Albright Auditorium. Admission is free. Attendance is encouraged.

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