Boston College’s Committee for Creative Enactments (CCE), an improvisation comedy group on campus, will host an Improv Comedy Showdown on Saturday in Stokes South 195 at 8 p.m.
The group, which has been on campus since 1988, competes in Improv Boston’s Annual Comedy Beanpot, a tournament between 18 New England colleges and universities, every February.
This year, the group decided to organize a preview of the event on BC’s campus.
CCE will host four groups: Boston University’s Liquid Fun, Suffolk University’s Seriously Bent, and Northeastern University’s NU and Improv’d.
“I wanted to build off of that spirit [of the Beanpot] of different Boston schools competing and bring that aspect to the comedy,” Elisabeth Ryden, vice president and secretary of CCE, said. “It’s a good way to bring Boston together.”
CCE also decided to host a preview of the event in order to strengthen its relationships with the other colleges’ teams, Starlin Shi, MCAS ‘16 and co-coach of CCE, said.
“This is the first time we’ve had a collaborative event with off-campus improv groups,” Ryden said. “And that’s really exciting because one of the main themes in doing improv is teamwork. It’s all about communication. So taking that to a larger scale and doing it with other teams is really exciting.”
The competition will consist of three different events—short form, long form, and line games. The short form game lasts for a few minutes and involves suggestions from the audience, whereas the long form continues for about 20 minutes.
“I wanted to build off of that spirit [of the Beanpot] of different Boston schools competing and bring that aspect to the comedy.”
-Elisabeth Ryden, vice president and secretary of CCE
For the line games, all performers stand in a line on stage and are given an idea by the audience. They are very quick one-liners, Ryden explained.
“You always get your inspiration from the audience,” she said. “So the person running the game can ask for an object or thing, but they usually just take anything the audience gives.”
The improv club performs about once a month and participates in three events beyond BC’s campus each year: the Boston Comedy Arts Festival in September, Nationals in November, and the Annual Comedy Beanpot in February.
CCE is open to all students—no previous improv experience is necessary. Therefore, many of their meetings revolve around practicing improv. Raymond Santos, MCAS ‘16 and co-coach of CCE, and Shi teach lessons on improv and work to develop the skills of every member.
The group has about 45 members, but there are different levels of commitment, Shi and Santos said.
“We try to keep things as casual as we can,” Shi said. “It’s improv—you want to have fun and it’s not exactly a life or death issue, but there are definitely some people who get super into it.”
They are taking a nine-member team to the Beanpot. There was no official tryout for the team—it was based off of their performances at the club meetings.
CCE meets on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays in Gasson.
“It’s more practice than rehearsal,” Shi said. “Practice is more to see if we can react in the moment because we don’t know what kind of inspirations we’re going to get from the audience. So it’s just sort of honing those skills so we can react in real time.”
The Beanpot in Boston generally attracts a different crowd, Ryden said. Audience members usually consist of Boston residents and BC graduates rather than current BC students.
“The show we’re doing this weekend is much more directed towards BC students,” Ryden said.
The group’s goals for this weekend, Shi said, are for the event to run smoothly and to get a strong turnout.
“It is a very unique event,” Shi said. “I think that improv isn’t necessarily the best-advertised thing on campus.”
Improv, Shi said, makes some audience members feel uncomfortable. Shi ensures that the environment will be relaxed and comfortable and no one will have to unwillingly participate.
Santos and Shi hope to win the Beanpot this year. If they do, it will be their first win since 2014, when the women’s and men’s hockey teams also won the hockey Beanpot.
“It’s just a blast because you get 18 teams together, and they’re generally just a bunch of goofy people,” Shi said.
Featured Image by Elisabeth Ryden