USask Improv sets the stage for student development

By in News

Usask Improv is a newly ratified student group at the University of Saskatchewan aiming to bring a unique brand of fun to campus through improv shows. With exciting plans for the future, they aim to prove that there is a lot more to improvisational comedy than meets the eye.

From its beginnings in College Quarter residences, USask Improv has grown into a diverse group of talented students. The group hopes to demonstrate that the benefits of improv comedy stretch far beyond being funny. On Oct. 24 they will be hosting their first show of the season on campus.

Jeremy Bastian, president of USask Improv and a student in Edwards School of Business, is optimistic for the group’s future, remarking that there is a growing interest in what they’re doing. He takes misconceptions about improv in good humour, however.

“Some people think its dance, some people think it’s, like, social experiments, some people think its flash mobs — we don’t do that yet, we’re open to suggestions though,” Bastian said.

According to Bastian, improvisational comedy serves as an effective stress reliever and helps with anxiety. The group encourages students to act in the moment and they provide plenty of opportunities to let loose. It offers a healthy environment where they can be themselves, have fun and be heard. With enough interest, USask Improv hopes to host workshops in the future to allow for other students to give it a try, but until then, their monthly shows promise to be entertaining and fun for all.   

Bastian admits that the process of becoming an official U of S student group was a bit overwhelming at the outset, but he recognizes the significance of the designation. 

“Looking back, the U of S Students’ Union gave us a lot of good resources to use, like the sample constitution and looking now, I know how important it is for transparency and structure, and that groups and members are supported by the U of S community,” he said.

USask Improv held auditions earlier this year and the qualities they looked for in potential candidates included skills like impulse, the ability to act as a character and to be a good listener. Bastian insists that good team function is integral to good performances.

“If you’re a good improviser you can make your scene partner look good, you need to be thoughtful and you need to set the people that you’re working with up for success.”

Bastian feels his experience with improv has been rewarding in more ways than one and values the interconnections within the group.

“Improv is one of the most thoughtful and welcoming groups I’ve ever been a part of; everyone is very good at giving feedback and making each other better improvisers. At the end of the day, our improv becomes better when we all become better,” he said.

The group practices at least twice a week, following a loose structure aimed at improving skills.

“Usually we have some kind of warm up, games to get the energy going, if someone were to see it from the outside and they didn’t know it was improv they would think we were all crazy,” Bastian said.

At approximately 20 members, USask Improv includes a diverse group of students and Bastian insists that the group is inclusive of students from all colleges and with varying levels of experience.

“We only have one or two people who are actually in drama, we have a few computer science students, a psychology student, I’m in business and I think we have one engineer,” he said. “A lot of people think that improvisers are just extremely outgoing people, but we have a wide range of personalities.”

Emily Migchels