Students find opportunities to perform comedy on campus
With larger cities at least an hour away by car, there aren’t many opportunities for Central Michigan University students to perform or experience comedy. Now, a group of witty students are trying to change that.
Trap Door Improv, After Hours Improv and Rubble’s Bar Open Mic Night are providing platforms for CMU students to tickle funny bones. Whether it be improvisational or stand-up routines, these groups and events are creating a comedy community on campus that serves as an outlet for performers.
Trap Door Improv
Trap Door Improv is sponsored by the University Theatre. Pinnebog senior Will Johnson said the group comprises 13 members who passed an audition process and practice two-to-three nights a week while performing shows regularly.
Despite being sponsored by the university, the group is student-run, Johnson said. The goal of the group is to do improv comedy for people who enjoy it.
“When you have the audience and their combined excitement and their energy, it propels us through no matter how many shows,” Johnson said.
The troupe recently performed two shows on April 12 in Moore Hall Room 102, otherwise known as “The Platform.”
During practice, the comedians start with warmups. On show weeks, they run through an entire setlist and teach games to new members on non-show weeks. Trap Door Improv has about 30 short-form games they can play, Johnson said. The troupe will write them down on the board and select eight to 10 depending on audience participation and group preference.
When the members are not performing, they attend workshops. Trap Door Improv traveled to Ball State University on April 8 to attend the third annual Midwest Improv Festival, which included professional and collegiate troupes.
Johnson described the festival as an “improv boot camp.” At the end of the day, different schools go out together on “the front line” of the festival ending with a show.
“It’s really scary but really fascinating and an exciting way to get to know other people through improv,” Johnson said.
The best part about Trap Door Improv for Johnson is forgetting about his problems for a couple hours with each practice or performance.
“At the end of the day, you’re just laughing and making jokes in front of your great group of friends,” he said. “I think that’s more rewarding than a 200-seat theatre filled with people.”
After Hours Improv
While Trap Door Improv requires auditions, After Hours Improv is open to anybody.
“After Hours is an open group that specializes in workshops and teaching anyone about the basics of improv if they want to learn,” said Mount Pleasant junior Walter Mueller, president of After Hours. “We’re open to any college student who wants to learn about improv.”
The group has ballooned to 18 members, doubling its membership from the start of the year, Mueller said.
After Hours meets from 7-9 p.m. on Tuesdays in Pearce Hall Room 203 and on Wednesdays in Pearce Hall Room 127.
Mueller said After Hours teaches long-form techniques but applies them to short-form games. They teach The Second City and Upright Citizens Brigade techniques to make short scenes entertaining and as powerful as possible.
With a crop of freshmen, Mueller said it is exciting to have new faces interested in learning improv.
“The atmosphere is really fun because we have people who are just really hungry and here to learn all this new stuff we’re teaching them,” he said. “It’s really fun to have this energy up.”
After Hours Improv will host a show at 6 p.m. Friday, April 21 in Pearce Hall Room 128.
Rubble’s Open Mic Night
Rubble’s Bar, 112 W. Michigan St., hosts a biweekly Wednesday open mic night from 8-11 p.m. The show welcomes musicians, poets and comedians.
The show featured a handful of comedians who each performed 10-minute sets at its April 12 show.
Fremont junior Bennett Featherstone performed during that show. He has performed stand-up for more than a year-and-a-half and is a Rubble’s regular.
Featherstone advises everyone to check out the show, although some of the material might not be clean.
“Rubble’s is great,” Featherstone said. “I like it there and if it wasn’t there we wouldn’t have anything.”
The Rubble’s Open Mic is a show up, go up format. Anyone is invited to perform.