BY MOLLY ADAMSON
D+ Improv is preparing for another season full of laughs and it’s first show of the year, as they preform during Homecoming this week.
This year, the troupe has seven women in it, including President Alyssa LaTranga. The troupe has 14 members total. These women have two missions in mind this year: to make Drake students laugh and to prove that women can be funny.
Women like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Amy Schumer have been able to make a name in comedy, but not all female comedians are as lucky.
“As a woman you have to prove yourself more,” said sophomore Maddie Sell, psychology and musical theatre double major. “A man can go on stage and be himself, but as a woman I feel that I have to be bigger, lower my voice or be more masculine. I can’t show my feminine traits because female characters can get very annoying. You have to watch yourself a lot more. In order for people to laugh, you can’t really be feminine, which sucks.”
Senior Mari Moroz, a public relations major and marketing minor, agreed with Sell regarding a females role in improv.
“I like to do a lot of physicalities in my improv,” Moroz said. “It’s funny to me, so I like to do it, but it’s not always what you think of when you think of women acting. They’re usually seen as more shy or more verbal in their comedy. A lot of the women who are kind of shoved under the rug are those who are more physical and do more masculine things.”
D+ is trying to combat these comedy viewpoints by not forcing their women into stereotypical females roles during a scene. Women in improv are often automatically placed into a role as a mother, sister or daughter of their peers.
“It’s easy to give someone a character, but it’s even easier to give them a gender role, and often enough it’s a woman being put into that box,” LaTranga said.
Although the stereotype is present, the women don’t let that influence the way they perform on stage.
“We’re breaking out of that, but people still believe that girls shouldn’t be funny because they shouldn’t use their voices in a way that men use their voices,” Sell said.
The women have many females they can look up to as inspiration and role models in the professional comedic world.
“I like a lot of funny women,” said senior musical theatre major Isabella Taylor. “I read Amy Poehler’s book ‘Yes Please’ and that inspired and changed me a lot. But I think my passion started with people like Carol Burnett in musical theater and their ability to not be afraid to be ugly…I think the most exciting characters to play are the people who are completely and utterly themselves.”
D+ Improv does not try to limit its women but instead encourages teaching its members to avoid stereotypes and see people instead for their acting abilities.
“The girls bring juxtaposition,” said senior Jasen Emamian, a double major in public relations and acting, and the troupe’s vice president.
“In any group of people, you want as many different viewpoints as possible,” Emamian said. “Our girls are fantastic stars who push me to grow and develop my skill as an improvise through as many different looking glasses as possible.”
The troupe thinks that gender shouldn’t matter.
“It’s not about the gender of the person, but about the person themselves and how they present themselves through the jokes they tell,” Sell said. “People will see a woman walk up on stage to do comedy and they’ll immediately put them beneath men. They’ll say, ‘Oh, it’s a woman trying to be funny. She shouldn’t be funny.’ But then it’s the funniest thing of the night.”