Black Squirrel Improv Troupe aims to add laughter to campus

Abbey Jones

Dedicated to providing a light-hearted space for humor, the Black Squirrel Improv Troupe has been working to expand their presence on campus.

The troupe consists of 10 members this semester, after recently completing auditions for new members. The majority of the troupe’s newest members consist of freshman and sophomores.

One of the returning members, Paul “P.J.” Leyden, is a third-year senior, computer science major, with a minor in theater. He is president this semester, and hopes to see the atmosphere between the members of the troupe extend to the audience in their shows.

“I think [the troupe] is important because [we] let you be yourself,” Leyden said. “When you’re here, you’re just you.”

Leyden said the atmosphere of the improv troupe is comparable to sitting around with friends, and losing track of time because of how freeing being around the other members are.

“Our shows on Fridays are just a nice way to end a long week of classes and homework and projects…whatever you may be doing,” he said. “The fact you can sit down for two hours and watch a bunch of people make fools of themselves on the stage is pretty nice.”

Zavior Jones, a freshman digital media production major, is new to the troupe, and also agrees that the atmosphere of the shows is one of the best parts about being in the troupe.

“[Our shows] aren’t as safe as [the TV show “Whose Line is it Anyways?”] because there’s no Drew Carey making opening jokes. This is a lot more open, a lot more fun,” Jones said. “[The troupe] is people your age. People like you, yourself, [acting]. It’s fun to relate to a performer.

Additionally, junior political science major Julia Pharmer thinks good shows primarily come from a good group dynamic.

“I think improv is really dependent on the team,” Pharmer said. “You can’t have good improv with people you don’t really know.”

The group performs once a month at the KIVA, and Pharmer believes these shows are beneficial to campus because of how open to everyone they are.

“Improv is a good way to connect people to the arts,” she said. “Not everyone wants to go to theater shows, but everyone likes comedy. This is for anyone. It’s very inclusive to a lot of people.“

Jones agreed with Pharmer in that improv is a lot different than traditional theater shows.

“Normally in theater, you have to sit with a certain script,” Jones said. “In [the improv troupe] you have a character, you have a scene, and you just go for it.”

Abbey Jones is a general assignment reporter. Contact her at [email protected]