Nuthouse intends to lighten the mood

Improv group looks to ease tension with games, interactive skits at end of week in Wadleigh Theater



Brenna McMakin, left, Ryan Bishop, center, and Aryn Allen give good, bad and really bad advice to the audience on issues the audience yelled out. August Zamzow, far right, looks on during the Nuthouse performance Friday night in Daggy Hall.

MORGAN LESTER, Evergreen reporter

In the intimate space of Wadleigh Theater, the actors of Nuthouse Improv gather with the audience to create laughter aplenty and general good mirth. By the time that everyone leaves around 9:30 p.m., they have bright smiles and residual giggles from a show well done.

Spencer Knudson, the student director of Nuthouse Improv, said Nuthouse mostly focuses on short-form improv, so they play a lot of games. The comedy revolves around either preforming a series of quick scenes or games in which the audience provides suggestions or topics for the game or scene.

Most of the time however, improv comedy does not require an affinity for humor.

“Improv, first and foremost, is all about listening and accepting offers,” Knudson said, “If you can do those two things, you can be a great improviser.”

Knudson went on to say that this allows the humor to form on its own naturally, rather than relying on shock factor or other crass humor. Each idea is tried out, and each player helps each other out.

“Whatever you say, whatever comes out of your mouth, is accepted,” Knudson said, “One of the biggest challenges for people starting improv are that they are going to say the wrong thing … they just have to be a good listener and a good responder.”

This requirement comes as part of the art form they practice, as improv shows are what their name implies: unscripted scenes that require teamwork to bring them to a fitting end.

In rehearsals, Nuthouse performers work on that very aspect, practicing various games and getting in touch with each of the others’ bandwidths.

These games are often based around one specific idea or element in which different sets of players work toward a goal. One game requires a player, placed outside the room, to guess the item that they are attempting to return to customer service at a store. During last Friday’s performance, one of the players attempted to return a Keurig because it wouldn’t cook hamburgers.

There is another game where two players must match each other word for word, and action for action at an event. With no end goal, the scene goes on as long as they players decide to go.

The main goal across all the games is to bring about natural laughter and to brighten the end of the week, Knudson said. They work together, pulling each other forward to make these laughs happen and instill a sense of good fun and relaxation throughout the room.

Those in Nuthouse look to continue this tradition, Knudson said, they are always looking for people who want to take part and join in.

“If you’re scared, you should at least try improv,” Knudson said. “A lot of times I would just have fun being in scenes laughing with my friends, and that was enough for me.” For Knudson, what matters is that you come to play, and work with the group towards the end of making people laugh.

Nuthouse Improv performs at 8 p.m. most Friday nights in Wadleigh Theater, and tickets are $5.