By Mike Herold
What activity on campus involves painted rocks up for auction, walruses complaining about their changed habitats and students hiding in bushes being randomly tazed?
If you guessed a class, then you may need to rethink the classes you’re taking.
But if you guessed the Rather Outrageous Comedy Kickout (or ROCK, hence the painted rocks for sale), hosted on Saturday, March 23 by the Mixed Signals and sponsored by All College Theatre, then you’d be right on the money! (And were probably there, those are some really specific examples.)
The event is a showcase of improvisational comedy troupes from colleges around the area. Aside from the Mixed Signals (and some alumni of the troupe who performed both alone and with the Signals), Awkward Improv from Rowan and A4Effort from Rutgers gave performances, all of which left the audience in fits of laughter.
“I think overall was one of the best shows I’ve been involved with,” said senior biology major Dan Loverro, who, along with sophomore women’s and gender studies major Morgan Teller, was one of the night’s coordinators. “It was months in the planning, and it worked out great.”
Those months of planning also involved acquiring professional talent to headline the night’s events.
Don Fanelli, Brandon Gardner and John Frusciante of the Upright Citizens Brigade Touring Company closed the show, performing long-form improv based off interviews with the audience (especially one student who asked on-stage to remain anonymous) which included the aforementioned student tazering.
The audience, who had the benefit of full context, couldn’t help but laugh at that. Fanelli summed up the reaction best, very simply: “Improv is fun.”
Fun improv comedy may be, but for those students actively involved in the art, the night was about more than a few laughs.
“Seeing the other troupes perform is so helpful, there’s so much you can learn from your peers who are in a totally different bubble from you, and a different style,” said freshman history and secondary education double major Rachel Friedman.
“It was great watching the show as a person in improv because you can just see all the different techniques people use,” said junior computer science major Graham Mazie.
“It was awesome seeing other troupes,” said freshman English and secondary education double major Steve Munoz. “When I got here I came to all the Mixed Signal shows, and there was this sense of wonder not knowing the people all that well, and now seeing other troupes perform and how they work has been a really interesting experience, because now I know more about how improv works.”
“Each troupe had a different style of improv, which was really interesting to see all different sides,” said junior computer science major Lindsey Nice. “That’s what ROCK’s all about, showing off all kinds of improv.”
The night certainly did just that, and an alum of the group was able to put the lessons of improv into a more overarching context.
“You can’t prepare for everything,” said John Eldis, class of 2012, “so improv can help you prepare for situations that you might not expect, things that might otherwise be overwhelming.”
After a show like that, students are certainly prepared for more laughter to come.