“Want to laugh? Then come on in,” says Kelsey Behenna ’21, vice president of the student improvisational group dubbed the Goose Troupe. “It really is the only requirement for joining.”
By joining, Behenna means going to the weekly Wednesday evening gathering in Hemingway Theatre, where 15-plus students perform in a Whose Line Is It Anyway? fashion, crafting jokes, playing games and honing their improvisational skills. With different themes and prompts each week, members take turns acting out sketches and scenes. “It takes a lot of quick thinking and wit,” says Jessica Nicol ’21, Goose Troupe president.
Other skills are needed as well. “We practice projection, public speaking, body language, social skills—these all help build confidence for other parts of your life, too,” says Behenna.
Central to the group’s mission is the idea that Goose Troupe is a safe space for anyone who wants to join. “The whole point of the club is to get away from stress, not just of college life but life in general,” says Nicol.
“Sometimes shock humor and dark humor can be done tastefully, but I find that it is often an excuse for people to punch down and insult. That’s not what Goose Troupe is,” she continues. “We want to punch up—finding ways to be positive, creative, clever and think on your feet. This leads to really funny moments and a safe place where people can sit back and have some laughs.”
And when the moment isn’t as funny as hoped? “Not every joke is going to be a winner. Sometimes it falls flat, and we just move on,” says Nicol. “It happens to all of us.”
While some members enjoy watching more than performing, Behenna says “going up”—on the improv stage—is worth trying. “You never know who’s going to be a hoot.”
Ready for Improv? Five Goose Troupe Tips
- Keep your confidence: Even if a joke falls flat, keep going.
- To do or not to do: Always run a filter in your head on what is and is not appropriate for your audience.
- Speak out: No one can hear you if your back is to them.
- Sell it: If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, no one else will.
- Collaboration: Look to your peers for help; you don’t have to carry a scene alone.