By Blake Stewart and Bailey Basham
Abi Larimore walks around the stage in Benson Auditorium, warming up with her friends.
The name of the game is one-word story, and the players are other members of the Trevecca Improv Club.
Larimore, senior communication studies major, has been involved with the club since her freshman year.
“A boy I liked dragged me to it, and I was scared and didn’t want to participate. I got there and broke the few rules there are but soon, fell in love. Not with the boy, but with improv,” said Larimore.
Entering its fifth year at Trevecca and following its club of the year win from last year, the Improv Club serves as an opportunity for students to meet new people and do something different that will challenge them to get out of their comfort zone, according to Larimore.
Though she was nervous and unenthusiastic at first, Larimore now serves as the president of Improv Club.
“My favorite part is seeing how it brings out the best in people. There are several people that I would never have met outside from the meeting. Without improv, I would never know [what it’s like to be] generous with yes’s,” said Larimore. “Improv pretty much shows you who a person really is. It’s been a joy to get to know people in this way. We drop our baggage at the door and seek to make a completely new story together every single time we meet.
Improv Club serves as a space for students to practice their improvisational comedy. Larimore said the number one rule of improv is to always say ‘yes’ and make sense of what a fellow improviser has come up with.
“Outside of a good practicing environment, it’s a place where all sorts of people can come together and laugh. It’s the best way to end the week,” said Larimore.
For others, Improv Club has a bigger impact than just providing a space to practice.
“I have always tried to be a light-hearted person that can bring a smile to other people, but the version of me you see now is only about two years old. I was very self conscious for a long time,” said Matt Stapleton, senior communications and dramatic arts major. “When I started theatre last year, it taught me how to unlock the brighter and outgoing personality I had all along. For me, improv and laughter improve my life infinitely.”
Larimore said a typical Improv Club meeting begins with members—ranging anywhere from 20 to 40 people each week—sitting in a circle of chairs playing warm up games.
“Then [we] build on the concepts we’ve learned. We probably play 10 different games, maybe more, each meeting,” said Larimore. “I conduct meetings and loosely teach the concepts to my fellow students. Lots of attendees have already taken or are taking the improv class offered by Jeff Frame. But for those who have little to no acting experience, I break down the concepts.”
Sophomore theatre major Ryan Atkinson says his favorite part about the Improv Club is getting to know people on campus he might never have met otherwise.
“[I love] getting to interact with the people that come that I don’t know personally and the chemistry that my fellow improvisers and I get to share together onstage,” said Atkinson. “Relieving the stress to the students that come out to Whose Line to laugh [is great too].”
Sophomore music major MiKayla Hatfield is a club regular and performs at Whose Line is it Anyway, an Improv Club-sponsored event in Benson Auditorium where members of the group perform for the student body.
Hatfield’s favorite part of performing is getting to see all of the campus support and the unity that it creates with all the students.
“I enjoy being able to perform in front of my peers,” said Hatfield. “There’s no judgement. You can just be yourself and accept everyone as they come.”
For those who are interested in joining Improv Club but feel nervous about starting out, Larimore says the environment created by Improv Club members is one of total acceptance.
“There are people from all sorts of backgrounds, walks of life and ethnicities and new people every single week. If you are looking for a place of acceptance, that’s literally the biggest rule of improv—to accept. If you like laughing and shenanigans, come give Improv Club a try because we would love to have you,” said Larimore.
The group meets once a week on Friday afternoons at 3 p.m. Each two-hour meeting consists of various warm up games like one-word story.
Advice to newcomers from improvisers in the club: don’t be afraid.
“It is ok to try things and mess up. You can try anything, and you don’t have to worry about the way you look. You look ridiculous doing something? Brilliant, you fit in! Observe everyone else, and you will see all of us do it,” said Stapleton. “By having the ‘yes’ spirit though, we accept, go with it, and move on. So don’t let a fear of not being ‘funny’ keep you from trying. Feel free to come and just watch. Just be aware that it becomes harder to not get involved at some point. Laughter is contagious.”
Contact Abi Laimore at <AJLarimore@trevecca.edu> for information on how to join.