There’s a lot of pressure on the Brock Improv team every time they put on a show. With one show a month, at the very least, they’re guaranteed to bring something new to the table every single time – they have to. That’s the whole point.
But Brock Improv sells their performances as though they’ve been well rehearsed. There’s an infectious energy to the group, an atmosphere of fun built off not only the group’s individual loves of performing but of watching each other have fun and thrive. Cameron Weir, Brock Improv co-president and fourth year political science student, summed it up jokingly, but accurately: “if you enjoy laughing, this is the best club you could ever be in.”
Brock Improv had their first show of the year on September 20. This year, they kicked things off with Ricky, I’m Moving In!, a show featuring only returning members of the club.
Although every show is improvised on the spot, there’s still a certain amount of preparation that goes into it.
“We have a set list, we get people together, we figure out what everyone wants to do and then we practice,” said Olivia Blevins, co-president of Brock Improv and third year concurrent education student.
“Usually around a week before a show we started figuring out what games we want to play and what games people like playing in shows and what everyone’s comfortable with, then we play those more often than we would usually,” said Weir.
Weir went on to state that putting on a genuinely funny show is dependent on how much the performers are enjoying themselves. This is the key to determining what and who gets put into a show.
“We keep in mind that there’s some games people really don’t like so we can keep them out of it,” said Weir. “It’s not fun if it’s a game they don’t like and they probably won’t perform it well for the audience if they don’t want to be in it.”
Aside from shows, Brock Improv has two regular weekly meetings that they invite students to attend, touting themselves as a safe and non-judgemental space on campus.
“On our Monday night meeting, it’s just a jam, so we play a bunch of games and we just have fun,” said Blevins. “Our Wednesdays, for the first hour, we have a workshop that’s run by one of our executive members, just about a basic skill about improv, like ‘yes, and…’ or working as a group.”
As this show followed up almost a month’s worth of the jam nights and workshops that make up the Brock Improv repertoire, the group got the chance to let the skills they’ve been working on come to life for the audience. Weir gave an example of what to expect from one of their Wednesday night workshops.
“The workshop we did last week was for focus sharing and tasking. Focus sharing is the idea that if there’s two groups of people on stage at one time, one group is talking and one group isn’t talking but they’re still doing something that contributes to the scene other than just standing,” said Weir. “There’s a few games where there’s a bunch of people on stage and it’s very important for people not to talk over each other and to still be entertaining even if they’re not the main focus of the scene. I think if you come to our jam nights or one of our shows you start looking away from where the main focus of the scene is and you’ll still see something funny.”
Blevins and Weir both went on to state what someone will get out of performing improv.
“On a base level, I think that it’s fun,” said Blevins. “I think it’s something where you learn a lot about how to work with people. I think about not how to make myself look the best in the scene but how to make everyone in the scene look the best that they can possibly look.”
Blevins stated the skills she’s learned in improv have been transferable to everyday life as well.
“I think any aspect of life, especially in school when you’re working a lot in group settings, it can be helpful being a team player and that’s a main part of improv, at least for me,” said Blevins.
Weir agreed with her. As well as stating that improv was a great way to make friends, Weir noted how much growth he’s seen in him and his fellow performers as the months pass.
“It’s really rewarding to notice yourself getting better at stuff and think about a choice that you made that really made the scene work,” said Weir. “It’s really cool to see yourself evolve and see the other members of your club evolve and how many more skills they get over the course of the year.”
Ricky, I’m Moving In! was the first of many Brock Improv shows scheduled for the year. According to Weir, there’s a lot to look forward to.
“We’re going to have a bunch of shows on campus, there will be a show in Mahtay Cafe and at the end of February, there will be a summit where improv teams from universities all over the country will come to Brock University and compete at our improv summit with judges and a fun, weird theme. It’s going to be a really cool event that everyone should check out,” said Weir.
Brock Improv has one more audition for anyone who may be interested in being a part of the competitive team coming up on September 26. Their social media, facebook.com/BrockImprovClub and @BrockImprov on Twitter and Instagram, can be consulted for more information on how to get involved and any upcoming events.