The Second City and Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) comedy troups will perform off-the-cuff and sketch comedy at Chumash Auditorium the next two Friday nights for the ASI Improv Series: Late Night with ASI in the first improv event on campus. Cal Poly’s own Improv group, Smile and Nod, will open for the UCB show.
Improv is a style of comedy all about the unexpected, and interacts with audience members to come up with random ideas for quick sketches and silly games. In improv, the material is new every night. Josh Lee, aerospace engineering junior, said he is passionate about making people laugh and has been an improv player for Smile and Nod since last winter.
Lee said improv is about working the moment and going with the flow. Smile and Nod had one of those moments when a player was a pterodactyl who squawked out mucus during his scene.
“BRWACK, and phlegm flies out of his mouth right onto the stage,” Lee said laughing. Lee said he had just played an alien searching for food for his family and quickly pointed at the green blob shouting he’d found space porridge.
Second City and UCB are also fairly well-known, especially for fans of Saturday Night Live and Comedy Central. Many of the alumni have gone on to become popular actors and comedians seen frequently on SNL and the network shows. Comedy is one of the biggest demands for entertainment on campus, said Courtney Serafin, Associated Students Inc. special events student supervisor, and she wanted something different from the usual stand-up shows.
“We’re hoping for non-stop laughter. This is pretty big for us,” Serafin said. She said the series came about when UCB wanted to add Cal Poly to its college campus tour.
The Brigade was founded in New York by Amy Poehler and the other original cast members from the same-named Comedy Central show in 1996. Serafin said UCB’s tour is completely improvisational comedy. The Brigade is considered a newbie among comedy troupes, especially next to Second City.
Second City is celebrating 50 years of comedy with a tour that splits the performance between a revue that includes a history of the company and improv games. Second City began in 1959 as a comedy theater in Chicago and has since become well-known for its noteworthy alums.
Both theaters have comedy schools and boast a long list of famous alumni. Previous cast members include Tina Fey, Horatio Sanz, Abby Elliot, Stephen Colbert and classic comedians like Ed Asner, Dan Akroyd and Gilda Radner. Less well-known is the improv group on campus, though they’ve been doing shows for 12 years.
Smile and Nod is a club that performs every Saturday night during the quarter. The group is made up primarily of theater and liberal arts majors with the occasional engineering or science student thrown in. Shelby Lewis, theater sophomore and Smile and Nod player, is eager to share the stage with such a well-known group.
“We’re so lucky to be a part of this,” Lewis said. Lewis has dabbled in improv since high school but said this group is her first “real” experience.
Lee and Mitch Epeneter, liberal studies junior and troupe member, are excited for themselves and the school to be exposed to such experienced improv performers.
The Improv Series shows will start at 9pm both nights and are expected to last around two hours. Serafin said people can expect seating to be an issue and suggested showing up early for the show because of the popularity of the groups performing. Admission is free to those with student IDs.