Tune in, turn on, say yes

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Students seeking an escape from reality, or an excuse to scream, no longer need to rely on overpriced alcohol or designer drugs.

Instead, Sheridan’s Improv Club offers an escape without any of the typical withdrawal symptoms.

Bryce Jones, a third-year Animation student at Sheridan, started the club when he first came to Sheridan for Art Fundamentals in 2010. He enjoyed the improv he performed in his high school drama classes and when he realized there was no similar outlet at college, he started his own.

“I needed to yell,” says Jones, about feeling the pressures of being a first-year college student. “Everybody needs to be goofy once in a while, but now I’m pretty goofy always.”

For the first three years, few people knew about the club. Usually about eight people took part, mainly Jones and his friends, until the team began utilizing an unorthodox advertising tactic late last year.

“We learned the magic of posters,” says Isaiah Ledgister, one of two fellow Animation students Jones approached to help run the club this year.

The club sometimes gets more than 30 people now, with comics ranging from the business, theatre and computer technology programs.

“We don’t try to keep it too technical. We want it to be an escape,” says Luke Coleman, the other Animation student helping Jones run the club this year.

Jones, Ledgister and Coleman all say the U.K./U.S. television show Whose Line Is It Anyway? is a driving influence in their interest in improv. The team uses many of the show’s most popular games at its meetings instead of the more structured or dramatic games played in competitive improv.

Each meeting starts with a brief introduction followed by listing the club’s rules. Members must respect others while they perform, be mindful of their own and others’ safety, and to participate either by performing in sketches or simply sitting back and enjoying the show.

“We always need people to laugh,” jokes Jones, noting anyone is welcome to come out and simply watch the show.

Participants are also reminded of the golden rules of improv: never say no to a suggestion during a scene and always move the sketch forward with dialogue.

The group then plays a warm up game to get the creative juices flowing before acting out a series of more traditional improv games including Party Quirks, Sound Effects, and Freeze.

Michael Carey, a timid fourth-year Information Systems Security student, has been attending the Improv Club since its first year. He says he doesn’t act the way he does in improv when he’s in class or at home.

“Because I can’t. It’s not something that’s acceptable,” he says. “So improv is a nice outlet for me to sort of embrace that side of me that I can’t.”

The Improv Club meets every Tuesday night from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in G101 at Sheridan’s Trafalgar Campus.

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