No Jokes improv troupe kicks off semester with ‘BIG Bird Box’

Northeastern+improv+troupe+No+Jokes+performed+Jan.+8+in+AfterHours.+%2F+Photo+courtesy+Jonas+Polin.
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No Jokes improv troupe kicks off semester with ‘BIG Bird Box’

Northeastern improv troupe No Jokes performed Jan. 8 in AfterHours. / Photo courtesy Jonas Polin.

Northeastern improv troupe No Jokes performed Jan. 8 in AfterHours. / Photo courtesy Jonas Polin.

Northeastern improv troupe No Jokes performed Jan. 8 in AfterHours. / Photo courtesy Jonas Polin.

Northeastern improv troupe No Jokes performed Jan. 8 in AfterHours. / Photo courtesy Jonas Polin.

Ali Dusinberre, deputy lifestyle editor

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Northeastern improv troupe No Jokes held their first show of the semester, entitled “BIG Bird Box,” Jan. 8. The show featured a series of skits, which the troupe referred to as “games,” that drew laughter throughout the night in a notably packed AfterHours.

Improvisers opened the show in blindfolds, aligning with the theme of “Bird Box,” a popular new Netflix film in which characters are forced to wear blindfolds to shield their eyes from unseen creatures. Then the troupe dove into their first game of the night, developing skits based on audience-selected themes such as Post-it notes, tofu and Montreal.

Improviser Jonas Polin, a fourth-year cultural anthropology and theatre major, appreciated the audience’s high turnout and engagement with the show.

“We had a really great crowd today,” Polin said. “People were really into it. They were really yelling things out. It was high-energy, and I was really happy that so many people came out.”

Fifth-year behavioral neuroscience major John Wise, who joined No Jokes when it was first created in 2015, also remarked that Tuesday’s crowd was impressive.

“We weren’t expecting this many people,” Wise said. “We’re really glad that people, especially N.U.in freshmen that are probably coming in, decided to check us out, and we really hope that people come to auditions.”

Throughout the show, the troupe further involved the crowd by inviting audience members onstage to participate in the skits. During one game, improvisers had to mirror the actions of two participants and quickly devise ways to fit those movements into the scene.

Another game required a volunteer to identify herself as “the most interesting audience member” and then go onstage to be interviewed by the troupe. After gathering enough information, the improvisers acted out their interpretation of the story of her life, which involved watching Chris Rock chase a school bus and living with a roommate who eats oranges in the shower.

Former No Jokes member Maddy Shay, a fourth-year chemistry major, enjoyed the show and feels that the connection between the improvisers is evident in their performances.

“I love No Jokes,” Shay said. “I think everyone has a really distinct style and chemistry, and everyone sort of understands what everyone’s strengths are and really plays to them.”

As someone with experience in other types of theatre, Shay also pointed out the benefits specific to improv.

“When there’s a script, there’s sometimes a tendency to just be waiting for your next line,” Shay said. “But having the skills of improv really trains you to be in the moment and paying attention to what’s happening around you, so you’re genuinely reacting to things.”

Wise, whose first acting experience was with No Jokes, remarked that improv also offers value beyond the scope of theatre.

“It definitely has a lot of applicable skills into the real world,” Wise said. “It really helps you to think on your feet and sort of support others when you’re on a team. It’s definitely helped me be a better public speaker and sort of just build more self-confidence.”

Aside from attending shows or auditioning for the troupe, students can also get involved by attending No Jokes’ informal improv sessions, or jams, which are open to people with any level of experience.

“Jams are just a really great opportunity to sort of do what we did when we started this troupe, and that’s explore improv and see if it’s something you like,” Wise said.

In addition to their weekly jams, No Jokes hosts monthly Lady-prov sessions, which they began doing last semester.

“Anyone can come to jams, and then the Lady-prov is just once a month for non-men, trying to get more women involved in comedy because there are definitely not enough,” Polin said.

Students interested in improv can check out No Jokes’ weekly jam sessions Thursdays at 8 p.m. in 201 Hastings Hall.