NU ‘ Improv’d bring laughs to afterHOURS

NU ‘ Improv’d bring laughs to afterHOURS

By Maggie Cassidy

Optimus Prime kills an innocent bystander on a Fung Wah bus with a bike helmet.

While it may seem like a bizarre scene, Northeastern’s comedy troupe NU ‘ Improv’d acted it out last night at afterHOURS.

The group performs at local comedy clubs and competitions, traveling as far as Caroline’s in New York City. Last night’s audience was a mix of newcomers and veteran fans ready to soak in jokes that poked fun at everything from hipsters to children’s books.

“In order to be good at improv, you have to have a really good working knowledge of culture,” said Jared Drewniak, a senior communications major who has been part of the group since his freshman year.

Drewniak added,”You have to know your audience, and you have to know what your audience knows. And the idea is that you’re basically sharing an inside joke, and if you can share an inside joke with the entire audience, that’s the basis of funny.”

The interactive element of improv comedy makes it more enjoyable, said member Amanda Nesi, a senior communications major.

“The audience loves something that they put out there,” she said. “They’re writing the script for us and I think, because it’s so interactive, it works well.”

In “Clue,” audience members suggested the killer, location and weapon to one NU ‘ Improv’d member who tried to relay the message to other members without words – a combination of the games charades and telephone.

“Transformers” character Optimus Prime was difficult to convey, sending performers somersaulting across the stage, while simply mimicking riding a bike and pointing to their heads got the helmet part across. Portraying the Fung Wah bus brought more controversial tactics, with performers stretching their eyes to look stereotypically Asian and mocking Chinese accents and traditional behaviors like bowing.

But it also brought the most laughs, demonstrating NU ‘ Improv’d’s racy nature, as well as its success, both of which the members are quick to defend.

“We bill ourselves as a no-holds -barred kind of comedy group. We try not to hold back,” Drewniak said. Although some might find many of the group’s jokes offensive, he said they are meant to be funny, adding that the group steers away from offensive material that lacks comedic value.

Drewniak also said while their comedy pushes the limits, it still has a purpose.

“Offensive is offensive and funny is funny, and they can be one and the same, but one isn’t necessarily the other,” he said. “We won’t say something that’s really offensive just to be offensive.”

Nesi agreed with Drewniak.

“We’re not just going to randomly step out and be like ‘Oh, abortions!’ just for the cheap laugh,” she said. “However, if it works in the situation, then that’s what’s going to happen. As long as it’s good-natured and with good intent, I think that it’s okay.”

Students at the show said NU ‘ Improv’d’s view of comedy is what makes the group so successful.

“I think a lot of them view comedy as a challenge in that you can make people laugh when they think they shouldn’t be laughing at things,” said Erin McGann, a freshman English major. “I think that’s a big deal to them, and that’s what they think is being a good comedian.”

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