This year’s improv team gears up for another hilarious show this Saturday


During a crackling bonfire at this year’s senior retreat, the senior members of the improv team assembled and provided an enticing sneak peek at the electric energy they are about to unleash on stage Saturday.

Goaded on by the playful chanting of their peers, the improv team’s oldest members put on an abridged show, much to the delight of the Class of 2019. Even in that spontaneous moment, the team’s vivacity was evident.

“I think [the team’s] synergy and bond are more important than literally anything else we could do,” said improv co-captain, senior Mark Kemp, of the team’s magnetism.

The team is certainly close, and that is a key component of the quality of the show.

“The team and their connection are directly correlated to the success of a show,” said improv team member, senior Brendan Wendlandt. “If the team is synergetic and cohesive, everyone will be able to work well off each other to perform better.”

That unity also provides a certain comfort level on stage, allowing each member space to truly push boundaries.

“If you can’t trust the other person that you’re doing a scene with, nothing’s going to happen,” Mark said. “But we know that we all have each others’ backs; we’re all always looking out for each other. Above all- above being funny, above making a scene, we’re just there for each other.”

Besides the hours of summer rehearsal, a large facilitator of this bond was the team’s trip to Chicago.

Chicago is a buzzing hub of comedy and improv; thus, the improv team usually takes a team trip down there every summer. There, they spend 48 fun-filled hours watching various improv shows and roaming the city.

“Over the course of two days, you really get to know everyone a lot more,” Mark said. “You just cement those bonds that you’ve been building over the summer. We wouldn’t be able to have this sense of unity without [the Chicago trip] because it gives us so many common memories, so many things that we experienced that were great memories together.”

Not only does the team-bonding of the trip contribute to the team’s success, but the activities of the trip itself help give purpose and motivation to the team members.

“We go to see professional improvers do what they get paid to do,” Mark said, “and that kind of gives us something to shoot for.”

Another component contributing to what is sure to be a successful show is this year’s unprecedented director dynamic.

In past years, the team has been led by graduate John Donovan, who founded the team during his time here at FHC. However, this year, he had to bow out due to personal commitments.

FHC graduate Matt Elliot — who is coincidentally the founder of Random Acts of Talent — took over as director. To aid in this transition, Mark and the team’s other captain, senior Gretchen Shull, shouldered much of the responsibility as leaders of the team.

“It felt fulfilling [to fill in a leadership role] because I’ve done two other improv shows. I’ve done them all the years I could’ve,” Mark said. “It felt really nice to be able to take what our other director from the past gave us, change it a little bit, give it to new people, and keep the team going. Everyone who’s on the team is an equal, and you’ll be able to see that. Despite there being two captains, we’re all still one team.”

This increased role of peer leadership has added yet another layer to what makes up the team’s bond and comedic flair.

“It’s going to be a very personal show,” Mark said. “The show is going to be everything we want it to be. Our director has say on things we can’t do, but it’s all going to be stuff that we enjoy doing. You’re going to be able to see it on stage; you’re going to be able to see this energy that we’ve built as a team, and you’re going to see how that affects the comedy.”

Above all, each and every team member’s talent is sure to shine brightly on stage this Saturday, as their passion for comedy and the team is unwavering.

“Working on something that everyone loves and cares about and doing the improv is kind of an amazing feeling,” Mark said. “That’s why I’ve kept doing it– because it’s so unique. That’s why I’m so happy that I was able to get this opportunity to help direct it.”

Indeed, improv is like no other performing art– and that’s just what its members enjoy so much about it.

“Improv is where you stand with a group of people and come up with scenes on the spot and make other people laugh, which is weird,” said improv team member, senior Maddie Vonk. “You play pretend, but you’re in high school and not a child. I like it because I get to live in my truest form: nine-year-old boy.”

“I enjoy it because it’s an amazing outlet for anyone who wants to challenge themselves to think quickly or has an active imagination,” Brendan said of his appreciation for improv. “I always say dumb stuff that sometimes makes my friends laugh, so this is sort of similar to that.”

All things considered, the FHC community should undoubtedly be prepared for a spectacular show– one that even includes their own input.

“[The community] can expect a show that probably isn’t very much like anything they’ve seen before,” Brendan said. “People should come because this show is the only FHC production that involves the audience having a direct impact on the entirety of the show.”

And of course, as Maddie so aptly put it, audiences will surely be in for a laugh.

“It’s going to be insanely funny,” Maddie said. “So funny you may develop a six-pack, quite possibly a nine-pack.”