Student Union 330 is filled with smells of warm pizza and students chattering with excitement. On stage, two UB improv club members are warming up for the show, shaking their limbs and trilling their lips. As students gather around the table in the back to grab free pizza, a club member makes their way around the room, strumming a guitar and singing.
Conversations subside as the lights dim and the stage illuminates.
“Erie County Children’s Performance Troupe,” one of the three improv troupes, is the first on stage. A member sets up a chair as remaining members form a line offstage. Sitting down, he pretends to scroll through Tinder.
“Age, 22. Name, Charles Moneybags. Yeah, my dad is pretty rich. That’s all I need. Let’s see what we got,” he said.
Potential matches of the Cookie Monster, a frat boy named Chad and a giggly girl named Ramona come and go from the stage.
“First name, Buried. Last name, Alive,” one member introduced himself as while dragging a limp leg across the stage, garnering laughter from the crowd.
A few more matches were swiped on and the skit ended with a holler of, “Woo! Scene.”
This was the first of many skits that took place last Friday night at the UB Improv Club’s show. The club holds shows every two weeks on Friday nights in SU 330 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., with free pizza and free comedy. Through their immense passion for improv, the club hopes to create laughter and a sense of community while leaving a legacy behind for both existing and future club members.
Although these shows are acted out in the moment, there is still preparation and work put in before the actual performance. One troupe practices three times per week, discussing previous shows and honing in on what they can improve. Another troupe practiced the basics of improv before going on stage.
Tom Andrews, last year’s president and a current UB Teach student (and a former Spectrum staff writer), said the club has never been more alive in the five years he’s been a member. According to Killian Hannigan, club secretary and a business administration major, they’re averaging 47 people per meeting and frequently break 100 people per show.
“I look at the show today as a great starting point,” Gabriel Santos, a senior biomedical sciences major and the social media coordinator, said. “I’m extremely excited to sit down with everybody, talk about the show and see what we did right and can keep doing right. I just want to see a natural progression for the troupe throughout the semester.”
The first troupe that performed is led by club vice president and junior theater performance major, Tim Nunez and Hannigan.
The next troupe, “Improv for a Sushi Restaurant,” is led by senior communication major and president Moca Tanaka and Santos.
Santos holds a speaker while fellow troupe members come onto the stage, blasting the Harry Styles song “Music for a Sushi Restaurant.”
One skit was called “Emotional Attachment.” A member presented three objects to the crowd: a book, a frisbee and an iPod, each representing hyperness, violence and depression. The members take prompts from the audience while exchanging the items at random, leading to scenes with violent turkey hunters and hyper accomplices.
Lastly, the troupe “Roll for Funny” goes on stage. The troupe is led by Andrews and Juliana D’Orazio, a senior anthropology major who couldn’t make it that night.
Their skit was called “Audience Recap.” Half of the troupe remains on stage to perform a skit while the other half goes outside. After the first group is done, an audience member has 10 seconds to describe the scene to the remaining members. That group then has to try to replicate the first group’s skit.
The results? A skit about an overworked zookeeper cleaning up the otter exhibit turns into a skit about putting laxatives in the water cooler.
The show concludes with two members serenading a crowd member on stage with a guitar and a “thank you.” The crowd erupts into applause.
Autumn Ragonese, the club’s social media coordinator and a sophomore biology education major, said tonight’s show was particularly special because for three members, it was their first time being on stage. They said it’s fun to see new members going on stage as they’re learning and growing over the semester.
The seniors want to leave the club in good hands and create memorable traditions to be passed down. The progress the club makes today is a combination of their own work and the legacies of previous e-board members.
“I want to see where this club can end up,” Santos said. “I know that it can end up even bigger than it is right now.”
Katie Skoog is an assistant features editor and can be reached at email@example.com