Shippensburg University’s McFeely’s Coffeehouse lounge is a small, dimly lit space fit with more chairs than it ever fills and a thin, wooden stage that rarely gets much use. Despite the meager venue and the modest crowd of 20 students, SU’s Game On: Improv! comedy group still aimed for the big laughs at its final public performance of the semester on May 4.
Every other week, Game On: Improv! invites students to come watch and participate in a series of “anything goes” improv games, such as Awkward Bench, where two people sit together, each taking on different personas until one person can scare away the other. Some participants lasted several minutes on the bench, unlike senior Keith Russell, who zoomed off stage after senior Ryan Wingler straddled him backwards in an easy bid for giggles from the crowd.
If you asked him to straddle someone with a public audience when he joined Game On: Improv! as a sophomore, his answer may have been very different.
“Improv got me from being a close-shelled introvert to an extrovert,” Wingler said, chuckling to himself.
Other games throughout the night included Ding! where the audience established a setting and two participants interacted with each other. During this game, when someone shouts “ding,” whoever was speaking had to restate what they just said but in a funny, unexpected way.
Wingler, who pretended he was at a graduation ceremony motioned to an invisible box at his feet. “It’s… the stuff,” he said to Russell.
“Ding!” rang someone’s voice offstage.
“It’s… guns,” Wingler said, prompting more laughter.
With finals looming and papers waiting to be written, Game On: Improv! members felt that Thursday was the perfect time to exercise students’ laugh boxes. “It’s a great way to relieve stress,” Russel said.
They played another game called Party Quirks where three players took the stage and one left the room. The audience gave each person on stage a quirk — one girl had to scream anytime someone used the word “what,” and another had to imitate a bottle of Aunt Jemima syrup. When the fourth player re-entered the room, they had to pretend they were hosting a party and were tguess what each player’s quirk was. Not every joke landed, but the game still rescued students from thoughts of exams and group projects for a little while.
Improv meets every Sunday at 1 p.m. in Orndorff Theatre to play games like Awkward Bench, Ding! And Party Quirks, and according to Russell, the only requirement is imagination.