Story by Katie Ericson
Photo Courtesy of D+ Improv
Drake University brings in a lot of comedians, but what about the comedians that are already on campus? This is where D+ Improv comes in. A group dedicated to stand-up improvisational routines, the students are all about making jokes and having fun.
“Improv is just a form of acting, but what we do is completely made up on the spot with the help of a few suggestions from audience members,” said first-year Marianna Moroz. “Our main objective is simply to make people laugh.”
The group does not just sit around and laugh, however. D+ Improv competes in several improv tournaments. This sounds a little strange, to have a competition where people fight to see who is funniest, but the team members love it.
“Competitions are some of the most fun you will have. It’s just like going to any stand-up comedy show,” said sophomore Samuel Nolte. “Everything is fair game to joke about, and you will laugh a lot.”
Improv teams are from all over the country and from all different types of schools. First-year Ryan Wiskerchen said one of the most interesting parts of the competitions is watching the teams themselves.
“It’s a lot like our rehearsals except everything’s turned up to 10 in terms of the energy, the excitement and the ridiculousness,” said Ryan. “But it’s very interesting to see how our style of comedy differs from what other schools do, and the feedback from the judges is usually far more in-depth than the testimonials from the other kind of show.”
The group also holds a show each semester. In December, the group hosted its show, “Almost Funny.” Team members were separated into two teams and competed against each other trying to coax the most laughs from the audience.
“My favorite thing about improv is definitely the performances,” admitted Ryan. “I don’t feel like I’m at my best unless there’s an audience.”
Improv is not a typical extracurricular, though. While we all love to watch stand-up comedians and late night shows, the act is something many people consider terrifying. But the D+ Improv team feels differently.
Some members, like sophomore Daniel Hammer, joined because they love the act itself.
“My theatre teacher in high school started an improv group during my sophomore year and encouraged me to join,” Hammer said. “The continuous wit and courage necessary for improv makes it extremely fun and fresh, and it almost becomes addictive. So when I saw that Drake had a new improv group, I signed up for tryouts and have been having a blast with my fellow D+ Improvers.”
Practices are dedicated to experimenting with different situations, plot twists and one-liners all meant to get the most laughter from the audience. With all the other requirements and activities going on at Drake, this could become hectic.
Hammer said it is manageable, though.
“It’s not too hard to balance improv with school,” he said. “Our practices are held in the evenings when everyone can attend. We do have to put work into what we do however, and we spend lots of time practicing different games and forms.”
“Improv meets once a week, so it works great for all the members. I am working on two majors and a minor, and I’m in two shows at the moment, and improv rehearsal feels almost necessary. It’s a place to go and relieve stress, and just have fun.”
The group has not scheduled its next show yet, but keep your eyes out for D+ Improv’s show coming this spring.