Making it Up on the Spot



A young teenage couple walks through a Disney store in Chicago, shopping as if everything is normal. As they make their way down the aisle, another girl comes around the corner and hugs the boy, startling and shocking his girlfriend. The girls stare at each other, a mix of emotions playing across their faces as they begin to shout angrily at each other. A sales associate stands awkwardly nearby, wondering whether or not to intervene. The girls continue to scream at each other, each assuming that the other is stealing their boyfriend. The sales associate turns around and heads for security, not knowing that just around the corner is another boy, holding a camera just out of sight. He also doesn’t know that while the girls appear to be furious with each other, they are just making up a scene on the spot. They actually know each other quite well, these four teens. They’re members of the Improv Team.

“Avery [Ferin] and I had to have this huge breakup scene in the big Disney store with David Mainero and Eric White,” Kaila Kotas, senior and coach of the improv team, said. “A security guard almost had to come and break it up. It got a little heated.”

This past August, the improv team took a road trip to the streets of Chicago to get a glimpse into professional improv and to test their skills in a whole new setting. Their experience consisted of pulling pranks, improvising scenes and confusing ordinary people that were just going about their normal day in the Windy City.

“We went around and did a bunch of games on the street,” Kotas said. “Then at night we went to Second City Improv, which is an improv show, and it was hilarious.”

According to Kotas, it was rather difficult to do the sketches in the beginning.

“I think the most difficult part of Chicago was getting out of our comfort zones for the first couple [sketches] and doing them,” Kotas said. “You’re doing them with literally a bunch of people just walking by.”

Junior Sam Ovens agreed, adding that overcoming the awkwardness of being in front of random people was definitely a struggle.

“Even though the people there are almost definitely never going to see us again, it still felt pretty weird to have to go all crazy in front of them!” Ovens said.

Senior Avery Ferin agreed, stating that with improv, getting out of your comfort zone is the most important thing.

“I think that’s the thing with improv that’s really important,” Ferin said. “You can’t second guess yourself, you just kinda have to do it or else you’ll be timid and afraid. Once you put yourself out there the first time, the rest is easy.”

As a whole, the team managed to accomplish quite a bit during their two days in Chicago. From coming up with characters to creating entire sketches, they managed to complete most of their work during their hours on the road.

“The car ride was very bonding and we actually got a lot of writing done,” Senior Sam Morse said. “It was a good creative environment.”

Kotas agreed, adding that their road trip was also very musical.

“We had a lot of sing-alongs,” Kotas said.

For Ferin, the adventure was more productive than expected.

“We stayed up super late and played improv games,” Ferin said. “A lot of the material that people will see in the show actually came from that night.”

One of Ferin’s favorite parts of being part of this team is writing out the sketches. When the team is playing a game and they find a character that someone is particularly good at, they’ll write out a whole sketch just on that character. Her favorite part of the process is watching the idea go from starting on paper to the transition on stage.

“Watching it bud to being on stage is really fun,” Ferin said.

Morse agreed, stating that the environment the team creates is his favorite part of being on the team.

“My favorite part of being on the improv team is the ability to be creative with a group of people in a very lovely and friendly environment,” Morse said.

Because the team gets along so well, Ferin says that it becomes rather hard not to get off topic and turn a rehearsal into a hangout. However, speaking on improv in general, she says that keeping a scene from turning into chaos is what the team struggles with as a whole. When the team’s all together, “we get really excited and loud.” As for the atmosphere of the team, Ferin says that while it’s all fun and games, it’s the games that help keep them on their toes.

“Its quick thinking all the time,” Ferin said. “All the teammates are really witty and are able to think of things off the top of their heads.”

Ovens agreed, stating that everyone works exceptionally well together.

“They all bring a really unique sense of humor that is really fun and easy to play my own off of, which is very important,” Ovens said. “The atmosphere is really fun and energetic, but we still get stuff done.”

To Kotas, this team is full of nothing but positivity.

“With the improv team, it’s just always such a happy and goofy atmosphere,” Kotas said. “You never see anyone mad.”

While this team is all excitement and adventure, that isn’t to say the members haven’t learned anything along the way. From trying new things and doing something completely out of the ordinary, to working with others, each member believes that improv has taught them something unique.

For Ferin, it’s taught her a couple things.

“It’s taught me to adapt to other situations and how to cooperate with others,” Ferin said.

For Kotas, she’s learned that as coach, she sometimes just has to let the team be a group of teenagers who just want to have fun.

“I think what I’ve learned while being a part of this improv team is patience,” Kotas said. “This team is just a huge goofball of kids and they’re always screwing around and you just have to be patient with them because what they do is hilarious but at the same time they’re not doing what they’re supposed to.”

So how does everyone get along? According to Kotas, they’ve all become extremely close.

“You make so many good friends and every time you’re with each other you have such an amazing time together,” Kotas said. “There’s never a moment where we’re not all just cracking up and just having so much fun. It’s just an amazing time hanging out with the whole team.”

Ferin agreed, stating that there’s one thing they all have in common.

“Everyone’s really fun and interesting,” Ferin said. “They’re easy to work with, and it’s just like hanging out with your friends. I think it helps that all of us have an artistic background.”

Ferin also said that each person has something to add to the creativity that makes up the team.

“It’s really cool because all of us are very different,” Ferin said. “We all have very different personalities, and we all have our own little quirks and our little oddities, but when we come together, we make this really beautiful mess.”

Ferin says that when it comes to the show, it’s not all everyone may expect it to be.

“Our show is not entirely improv,” Ferin said. “It wasn’t last year or the year before. We have a lot of improv games, [but] we’re also doing sketches, so kinda like a Saturday Night Live type of thing.”

Ovens agreed and said that a lot of the show is made up of original ideas.

“[The show is full of] a bunch of original sketches and skits [and] some fun improv games,” Ovens said.

Ferin also said that there is one specific rule that must be followed throughout all of the team’s improv experience.

“With improv, the saying is ‘yes and’ because when you’re in a scene, one of the basic rules of improv is that you can’t say no,” Ferin said. “If someone says, ‘Oh look! There’s mustard flying in the garden!’, you have to say yes. You have to go with it.”

She also said that no matter what show you attend, you’ll be seeing something new.

“We’re doing two shows, in kind of a cabaret style,” Ferin said. “We’re doing different games for each show, so if you come to the seven o’clock show, you’re going to see different things in that than the 9 o’clock show.”

Ovens agreed, stating that the change in venue will definitely add to fun.

“This year’s show takes place in the cafeteria instead of the auditorium,” Ovens said. “Just like in a professional improv show, [we] will have a bunch of snacks and drinks and stuff to keep the crowd going!”

Ferin believes that this show will be full of surprises.

“Literally anything can happen,” Ferin said. “We’re going to be in the audience. We’re going to be on stage. We’re going to be really close and it’s going to be kind of crazy.”

With everything that will be happening in this show, it’s a wonder how their coach keeps all their ideas organized. But Kotas has faith in her team and believes that you won’t regret attending this crazy show where anything can happen.

“With this show you can expect to be leaving with like your cheeks hurting with how much you’re laughing,” Kotas said. “I think this is the funniest team they’ve had in such a long time.”