Joker’s Improv troupe gets the crowd laughing out loud

Members encourage participation from the audience.

Johnathan Geare, creeker editor

The Jokers improv troupe performed their first short-form improv show of 2022 on February 11. Members of the Cactus Shadows Drama Club donned their bright red Joker’s jerseys, along with decorative white bandanas and suitmarks sketched in eyeliner, to say “Yes, and” to the audience’s expectations.
Jokers shows consist of quick, comedic improv scenes known as games. Each game follows a loose set of rules, with the rest of the ideas flowing on-the-spot. Games range from small groups, where Jokers rely on as little as one partner to tell a story, to chaotic, collaborative, large-scale games for the whole troupe.
Shows like the performance in February run for over an hour and a half, featuring 13 games from Show Me That to Scenes From a Hat.
At the heart of the show is audience participation. Before the show this February, stand-by members of the Jokers improv troupe collected iconic movie and TV quotes from audience members for use in the game Who’s Line is That? where the Jokers pull lines from scraps of paper to incorporate into the scene.
Additionally, before each game, Jokers ask the audience questions about wacky, unrelated scenarios, hoping the answer gives at least one element of C.R.O.W: that is, Character, Relationship, Objective, or Where. Just one of those aspects of a story is used to kickstart the scene.
Most Jokers are used to the song and dance of two months of rehearsal, show, rehearsal, show, but some, like Monet Emry, are still getting used to the novelty. Like any form of theater, improv can be nerve-wrecking, but especially so given the nature of a fully improvised performance. “The thing I got hung up on on my first couple auditions was being so in my head about everything. [I was] telling myself I’m not good enough, telling myself I’m not funny enough, but you’re most funny when you’re just carefree and you let everything go,” said Emry.
To combat the nerves, in the hours leading up to the February show, the Jokers took part in a number of long upheld traditions, including the bandana ceremony.
“It’s just a scrap of fabric, but you earn your bandana when you’ve proven you’re worthy of a bandana… you get a little speech from one of your captains, and then you get to wear it on show days. This bandana means a lot to me… It’s a big part of my life now,” said Emry.
It is the sense of family that leads new theater students to take a shot at joining the Improv team, according to Emry and her troupe mate, Annie Bugby, a senior.
“It gives you a group on campus, a little confidence boost, and it’s just nice to have a group of people that you can have fun and laugh with,” said Bugby.
It’s this level of teamwork that allows the Jokers advisor, Andrew Cupo, to take a backseat in managing the troupe.
“The troupe does everything, from hosting the show now to setting everything up, so for me, [the February show] was kind of a casual, relaxing afternoon. It’s just dealing with the chaos of the improv troupe,” said Cupo.
The Jokers will be back this April for their next bi-monthly improv show.