No Jokes improv troupe entertains with “Welcome Quack”

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No Jokes improv troupe entertains with “Welcome Quack”

Iman Khan

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Northeastern’s in-house improv troupe, No Jokes, kicked off their first improv show of the year on Sept. 11 in Afterhours. The show was the start to a new year of improv, for returning and new audience members. By showcasing both reoccurring and new skits, the night was full of laughter.

For improviser Michael Brown, a fourth-year mathematics and linguistics major, the show was a great start to the year.

“I felt pretty good about the actual scenes, the content of the scenes, the physicality of being on stage and interaction with the crowd,” Brown said. “We were trying some new things.”

The troupe began the show, titled ‘Welcome Quack’, by sitting among the audience in an informal manner. After asking the audience to decide on a comical topic for debate, “mascots v. real animals,” performers joined in to share their opinion until they all gathered at the stage to welcome the crowd.

One of the new scenes was a mirroring sketch. Two improvisers maintained a scene while mirroring the movements of two volunteer audience members. The host of the scene rang a bell every few seconds to turn the the mirror on and off, which made it hard for the improviser and volunteer to coordinate their actions.

Improviser Jonas Polin, a fourth-year cultural anthropology and theater major, explained the group dynamics and their experience working together.

“[The show] felt really good. We’ve been doing a lot of stuff over the summer; we had jams over the summer,” Polin said. “So, I think we were all fresh. It was good to get the whole group back together.”

Audience member Eric Stehnech, a fifth-year chemical engineering major, was able to join in on some of the skits. After attending a few jam sessions outside of shows, Stehnech felt that improv shows are different than other performing arts.

“Just because it is so spontaneous you’ll have times where you’ll get those cringe moments. You can see on their faces, like ‘This is bad, I don’t want to do this,’ but they have to keep going,” Stehnech said. “Then the other times, like on SNL, when people laugh at their own skits. It’s just coming off there. It’s funny because it’s real, it’s not staged or anything.”

Stehnech also appreciated the creativity in one of the skits, where an audience member was participating in a mock interview.

Each improviser spent a few seconds interviewing the participant. After she exited the stage, the improviser’s made a scene, based on the information she had given them. By telling them she was from France and that the one thing she noticed differently about America was the air conditioning, the improviser’s added these elements to a comical scene.

Improviser Travis Bergmann ended the scene with the one word that they had established that they would avoid using from the very start of the skit.

Audience member Kelly Wong, a fourth-year chemistry major, said she enjoys watching the shows and having a good laugh while supporting her friends performing.

“I think it’s easy to understand. You don’t need to be into theater or film or anything. You just laugh,” Wong said. “I think it’s great because you can tell it’s improvised if it comes from [the audience].”

Polin has a year of experience doing improv, but has acted in other performances. He explained the differences between the shows, emphasizing the importance of communication in improv.

“I’m in the theater department, so I’ve been in plays as well. It’s a very different experience doing improv, just because it is made up. You really have to think on your feet,” Polin said. “You also really have to work with your fellow performers, which of course you have to do when you’re doing a play too, but you really need to listen to what other people are saying in order to stay on the same page.”

No Jokes ended the night with a common skit called “Sex With Me”. As the audience shared out random objects, such as a refrigerator, the improvisers proceeded to explain “sex with me is like a refrigerator because…” and make a dirty pun.

Both improvisers and audience members suggested that others come watch the show and join in on their informal sessions outside of shows.

Brown highlighted the personal benefits that he gained from improv.

“I just feel more comfortable talking to people, I will never get nervous at a lecture or having to deliver a talk ever again. It’s so much fun,” Brown said. “Even when I’m going through a rough patch in time, if I’m really stressed out, it has almost a meditative effect because it requires you to be so in the moment.”

Check out No Jokes on their Thursday night jam sessions in 204 Hastings. They will be holding auditions on September 17th.