Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

SMASH improv comedy group makes a comeback

The once popular Whitman club SMASH, a student run improvisational comedy group, is returning to campus after a three semester hiatus due to lack of leadership. Whitman seniors and former SMASH members, Ellie Gold and Sam Nortz, both ’11, are the driving forces behind the resurrection of this beloved club.

“We are bringing it from the ashes,” said Gold.

Gold and Nortz decided to bring SMASH back to campus because they want to foster an informal environment where students, with or without improv experience, can come and learn amongst other people who enjoy humor and acting.

“The schedule is more casual. It really is just meant to be a fun and entertaining thing. It is a study break club,” said Nortz. “You show up and play a bunch of silly games with a bunch of silly theater people.”

Unlike Varsity Nordic, Whitman’s competitive improv group, SMASH does not perform in front of an audience and does not require auditions–further enacting the beginner-friendly goals of the club.

“The nights I played, I found SMASH to be very open and light-hearted,  while still being focused and professional,” said former SMASH member and current Varsity Nordic member, Devin Petersen. “It is a great place for  people who want to grow as improvisers, as well as for those seeking a  comfortable environment in which to just have tons of fun.”

The two improv groups also differ in their comedic style. SMASH is more concerned with shortform improv games, a style that was introduced to the wider public through the popular television show “Whose Line Is It Anyways?”. Varsity Nordic tends to favor longform games, which often involve elaborate scenes and characters that build upon one another throughout a show. SMASH’s preference of the shortform allows beginners to become more comfortable with improv because the games often only require one-lined answers.

“I think those [shortform games] are a lot more fun because everyone gets a chance to say something and everyone is playing,” said Nortz.

Despite stylistic differences, members of both clubs are looking to develop a relationship and bridge the gap between the two groups.

“We would like to get them [members of Varsity Nordic] involved because some of them are really funny,” said Nortz. “Occasionally it would be nice to get a big group of them together and have them give us some pointers and teach us some new games,” he added.

While no official plans have been made, Varsity Nordic members are also looking to interact with SMASH.

“The members of Varsity Nordic have expressed deep interest in being  somehow involved with SMASH, perhaps occasionally doing workshops  together, or using our combined resources to bring professional improv  acts to campus,” said Petersen.

In the past, the less competitive SMASH club has proved to be beneficial in more than just comedic situations.

“I am much more comfortable talking to strangers than I used to be, and I credit a lot of that to my experiences with improvisational theater,” said Gold.

“It helps you think on your feet when interacting with people,” added fellow beneficiary Nortz.

Leaders of the club are looking to get younger students involved with SMASH to ensure its continued presence on campus.

“We are hoping we will get enough people who are genuinely interested in doing this so that when we leave one or two people will keep it going,” said Gold.

SMASH meets every Wednesday at 8 p.m. in Olin Hall.

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