Inauguration of Improvisation


Anna Finley

Yorktown’s funniest students pose for a picture

Elizabeth Noe , Sentry Staff Reporter

An improv troupe bands together to make up characters and stories off the top of their heads, all playing off of each other’s ideas, in order to make an audience laugh. Improv, short for improvisation, is when actors make up the plot, characters, scene and dialogue of a story whilst on stage. Sometimes, the performers will even take suggestions of characters from the audience.

Some may believe improv involves no practice because of its spontaneity; however, the many students that have participated in the improv troupe at school have practices to rehearse improv techniques and collaboration with other people.

Students in improv participate in a number of different games to hone collaboration and quick thinking skills. Such games include Nuns Having Fun, a variation on a game of Director.

“Nuns Having Fun in North Korea was just the prompt for the game, but we referenced that prompt the entire year and it happened at callbacks,” said senior Amir Elkamel.

Although many people in the troupe seem to have already had a talent for making people laugh, there was a large mix of different personalities and backgrounds in the group this year. The group pulled together by the end of the year and everyone, even newer members, was able to contribute ideas.

“All kinds of different people join improv, and they made sure of that this year. They got an equal amount of theater and non theater boys and girls, and a similar number of freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors,” said Elkamel.

Participating in improv has also helped many members of the troupe develop life skills that help them accept and respect other people’s’ opinions and points of view.

“I have learned to take in everyone’s point of view, and to try and include everyone in the activity at hand,” said senior Amir Elkamel.

A big part of participating in improv is to “never say no,” meaning that when the troupe performs or practices, no one shuts down anyone’s ideas. They all play off of each other and try to develop the story while incorporating everyone’s ideas.

“The main thing that I look for in someone to see if they’re good at improv is whether they’re just trying to make jokes all the time, or whether they go with the scene and actually try to carry on the situation, because that’s where the funny stuff is. If the situation is funny, you don’t have to try to keep on making jokes people will laugh just because of what’s going on, a lot of times people see improv so they think ‘oh, it’s funny,’ so I should try to be funny. The humor doesn’t come from trying to be funny, it comes from just trying to go with it,” said junior Alex Flood, one of next year’s improv presidents.

The improv troupe at the school is special because it provides an important opportunity for many participants to create a comedic representation of their character, but also for them to accept the aspects of themselves that make them good at improv.

“It’s definitely changed who I am…. Improv has really shown me that… sometimes the first thing that comes to your head can be funny. It’s made me more able to laugh at myself.”

Auditioning to be a part of the troupe can be competitive, but there are a few tips that will help people audition for improv; mostly they refer back to the main idea of improv, which is to “never say no.”

“Just watching auditions, I think that people should know the presidents [of the troupe] want them to be good as much as they do, and not to be scared of it and go with the first thing that comes to your head. That’s what I do, I say what comes to my head and 50% of the time it’s funny. Another thing they’re looking for is your personality, because they’re going to have to be working with you for a whole year. They want someone who will follow directions and contribute to the group and not try to either be the center of attention or not care about the troupe,” said Flood.

Investigating the improv troupe at the school, it is clear that it is a supportive group of like-minded students who are truly interested in comedy and form powerful bonds of friendship from their experiences in the troupe. The troupe lives life a little bit funnier, and has a great time doing it.