“Headlines you don’t want in the Collegian. Go!” shouts Nicole Mikulics at Joe Keilman, as they rehearse games for their show tonight.
“What’s great? Not these guys!” Keilman shouts back and quickly continues to rattle off disastrous headlines.
The banter back and forth between players continues with “Things Not to Say to Lindsay Lohan” (“your butt used to be smaller”), “Bad Pickup Lines” (“I want to date your mom”) and “Ways to Get a Sticker off Your Door” (“get a new door”).
This is practice for the Clown Box, a local troupe of comedians that forms an improv group similar to “Who’s Line is it Anyway?”
Practicing for their show tonight at the Lincoln Center, the group worked on the flow of previously used games, and new ideas they hope to incorporate.
Though improv comedy is based on the spontaneity of situations suggested by the audience, the players still practice the different games they are going to perform in their show in order to become comfortable on stage.
The Clown Box was created
13 years ago when a group of CSU theater students wanted to create an improv group not affiliated with CSU.
“A couple of the theater kids lived together in different houses, and one of the houses was named Clown Box,” said Joe Keilman, senior psychology major. “So the name stuck for the improv group.”
In previous years, the group consisted of members who showed up and were put on stage for the show.
Now, if the group loses a member, they hold auditions to fill the slot.
Because the group is very selective in choosing new members, Nicole Mikulics auditioned twice before she became a member.
“I love it, it’s amazing. It’s a great outlet for me,” Mikulics, fifth-year senior human and family studies major, said of the Clown Box.
Mikulics, Nick Holland, sophomore English major, and Keegan Hill, senior speech communication major, heard about the Clown Box through “Improv Acting” at CSU, a student taught comedy club.
When putting together the games for the show, the members try to create a good mix.
“We like to have music, audience involvement, joke games and scenic games in each show,” said Ryan Blume, a CSU alumi.
The group is working on a game called Ballad, where one member plays the guitar and narrates the scene while the other members act out what the guitarist is singing.
“We work-shopped the Heroic Journey Formula, same as in an E140 class, for some of our games, but it is never guaranteed to work out,” said Remi Frazier, also a CSU alumnus.
The group uses the Heroic Journey Formula when creating a story plot in their games.
It generally follows a hero or heroine through a difficult situation and ends with them learning a moral — one that doesn’t always play out as expected, since the audience might suggest a topic that doesn’t follow the formula.
In those cases, the players use their raw skills as comedians to entertain the audience.
As Mikulics sits in between two other members, they banter back and forth about unfortunate situations as part of the game “It Couldn’t Get Worse.”
“We go off that small thing, and the situations get worse and worse,” Frazier said. “It’s the duty of the person in the chair to stop it and say ‘It Couldn’t get Worse!’ and the person who got that exclamation stays in while the other switched with another player . and the game continues.”
During practice, players rehearse each game until they feel it is work-shopped enough, offer some constructive criticism and then move on.
“We follow our old scripts and formats, set up the basic guidelines,” Frazier said. “We add different music and switch the plot each time.”
The shows are held every first Thursday of the month at the Lincoln Center, excluding November this year.
The show starts at 8 p.m. and the cost is $5 for students.
The group is a non-profit organization and the money made goes towards booking and training performers.
Although the group consists of passionate stand-up comedians, most members say performing is an outlet for them and do not plan on going professional.
“We’re the only thing that’s fun to do on a Thursday night,” Blume said.
Staff writers Kelli Pryor and Kelly Bleck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.