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Jam Club and UB Improv showcase spontaneous performance art

Jamprov Rising brings collaboration of music and comedy

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Jamprov Rising knows how to get the creative juices flowing.

Jamprov Rising, a collaboration between Jam Club and UB Improv, took to the Student Union Theater Wednesday night for a joint variety show that featured two sets of alternating performances combining the musical and comedic talents of the two Student Association clubs.

“It all comes together when you’re jiving with people, when you get the juices flowing, and there’s no negativity around,” said Jerasak Manivong, a sophomore mechanical engineering major.

Jam Club warmed up the crowd at 6 p.m. with an energizing set of three jams, drawing curious spectators into the theater as groove-based music drifted through the Student Union. Next, members of UB Improv took the stage, looking to the crowd for topics that would form the basis of ad-lib comedic improvisational skits.

They pieced together the audience’s highly varied suggestions into absurdly comical plots involving such characters like superheroes endowed with strange powers, lizard babies and FBI agents.

Following another strong set from Jam Club, UB Improv’s second set of skits took place in a mock funeral setting, as friends of the deceased took turns re-enacting hilarious memories of their late friend in flashback style.

The concept for the collaborative performance came about from the friendship between Jam Club President Jeremy Landau and his roommate, who served as treasurer of UB Improv.

The collaboration made sense because both clubs are dedicated to spontaneous performance art.

Manivong said his introduction to improvisation as a “quiet kid” in his freshman year of high school helped him develop confidence. Now a sophomore in college, Manivong has brought his passion for performance into the leadership of UB Improv.

“Anyone can do improv,” he said. “It just takes effort and willingness to practice.”

Students who want to develop their improv skills can join UB Improv on Monday nights in the Student Union Theater from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

A successful improvisation, Manivong said, involves the establishment of three elements: character, location and action. Cooperation and sensitivity to what the other performers are doing is vital to an act.

“The trick is to not think about it at all,” said Keith Pomana, a junior media study major that performed at the event. “You can’t plan. You just have to react and stay in the moment.”

The same principle of cooperation extends to jam music.

A jam starts when one musician lays down a foundation, like a guitar riff or a drum groove and the other players build on it.

Each musician must pay close attention to the subtle cues of the other parts, locking in with and playing off the other musicians to keep performances dynamic and cohesive.

“The most important thing is listening and knowing the chemistry you have with the guys you’re playing with,” Landau, a senior business major, said. “Once there’s chemistry it just clicks and works out really well.”

Landau comes from a family of musicians.

His grandfather played trumpet and his father is a drummer. Jeremy joined that tradition when he started playing guitar at 8 years old.

“At that point I took guitar lessons but I never practiced,” Landau said. “But sports were never my thing so when I was 12 I started playing guitar again.”

On any given Sunday afternoon, the Jam Club holds meetings in Room 330 of the Student Union, where a rotation of guitarists, bassists and drummers collaborate to practice their instruments and improvise in extended jams. Jam Club is set to perform at Late Night UB this Friday night.

Jamprov Rising kept the entertainment flowing with strong performances throughout the evening and both clubs are looking forward to future collaborations.

Luke Heuskin is an arts staff writer and can be reached at arts@ubspectrum.com


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