The most exciting thing about improv comedy is that no one, not even the people performing, knows what’s going to happen next. Bits can be anything from a minute-long examination of the construction workers tasked with setting up Disney’s first burlesque show to a ten-minute round-robin style set involving Alexander Graham Bell and pirates who romance each other through his telephone, and the fun doesn’t stop there.
Improv InSanity is a weekly improv group at the University of Maine that meets every Friday from 4:30-6 p.m. in the Black Box Theater. Members participate in a variety of games and exercises and receive feedback from peers working together to improve their acting skills. The group’s emphasis on positivity attempts to ease any first-timer nerves, making it a safe place to have fun and be funny.
The group also participates in shows and competitions which happen year-round. They are optional, though it is stressed that winning isn’t the most important aspect of the competitions.
Co-President Peter Natali spoke about the competitive aspect of the group.
“Competitions are actually something we are incredibly new to, mainly because Improv InSanity hasn’t been part of an official competition until this fall at the Bangor Improv Festival,” Natali said. “It’s more of a showcase like the Mud Bowl. We were at the Mud Bowl a couple [of] years ago and how competitions work is that so far there haven’t been any winners or losers it’s more of a showcase of improv in the area. It’s more about just loving improv in general. However, we are scheduled to compete in the college international tournament which we’ll be going to March 8 at Improv Asylum in Boston, so once we find out how a competition actually works, we’ll let you know.”
The showcase aspect isn’t the draw for most people. Some members just wanted a club where they can meet other like-minded people also interested in improv.
“What made me gravitate towards the group was that I was going into my spring semester and I realized I hadn’t really joined a club. I wanted to join something I thought would be different, and I always liked making jokes and I wanted to try doing that with people who also like making jokes and being silly,” said Drew Cormier, a fourth-year secondary education and physics student who has been attending regularly for the past two years. “So I looked up improv and UMaine had an improv group and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
“Improv is fun because a lot of people from different walks of life get to feel involved and that’s really cool to me,” Natali said. “The group allows for people to just show up and be themselves and then act like a plethora of different characters in an hour and a half. If you want to join in on the fun Improv InSanity meets Fridays from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Express yourself.”