Campus club spawns local improv group
Published: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 14:01
The freestyle dance class’s music may reverberate off the walls and the karate group can get a little loud with their yelling, but nothing quite fills the Whittier Community Center with noise like The Antics on a Friday night. Drawing crowd of around 50 people during an average performance, it’s not a hard feat for the Logan-based improv troupe to fill the gym with laughter.
Improv is a form of theater where most of what is performed is made up on the spot — no scripts, sets or rehearsals. Some people mix it up with stand-up comedy, said Antics Manager Liz Morley, but it’s an act all it’s own. She said it’s not just about getting on stage on spouting one-liners: It’s a spontaneous, but skill-filled, version of theater.
“The Antics as a whole are definitely artistic,” said Morley. “We definitely value the art of improv because it is live art. I love it.”
The Antics, who are a professional spin-off of USU’s improv club, just finished their second year as a troupe. Morley said while the organization’s purpose is to entertain, she’s collected a barrage of life lessons from performing, including teamwork, thinking on her feet and learning to trust complete strangers.
There are other perks too.
“It makes you more popular at parties,” said Spencer Barry, Morley’s brother who’s also an Antic.
Most improv is made up of short acts, often played with audience interaction. One of Barry’s favorite memories with The Antics was a Christmas performance during a game called Recast.
In the game, The Antics take scenes from popular movies and play the lead roles with different actors. For example, instead of Harry Potter being played by Daniel Radcliffe, he might be recast as Jim Carrey. In this particular show, the movie was “Elf” and Mall Santa had been replaced with Captain Jack Sparrow. Jordan Fultz, an Antic, was playing Sparrow.
“He just went out into the audience just acting like Jack Sparrow,” Barry said. “He had the swagger and everything.”
In the middle of the game, Fultz decided to mix things up.
“We have another game called pieces of paper, where you’ll be doing a scene on stage, and you’ll pull a piece of paper out of your pocket and do what it says,” Barry said.
Fultz happened to have one of those pieces from a previous game, and thought it would be funny to pull it out.
“He comes back up on the stage, he sits down and pulls the paper out of his pocket. He has no idea what it says,” Barry said.
The paper said, “Why is the rum gone?”
“It was improv magic,” Barry said. “It was hilarious.”
Besides getting a chance to pretend to be Johnny Depp, Fultz said being part of The Antics helps him with social, team building and confidence skills.
“It makes me do job interviews better. I get along with people at my job better and I’m better at making work fun,” he said. “It’s made me more conscious of just how other people need me to interact with them for them to like me and for me to get along with them. I think it makes me a more well rounded person.”
He’s a mechanical engineering major, which may seem as far from the stage as possible, but he said everybody uses improv in life, even if they don’t realize it.
“I’ve heard a lot of people say ‘I’m just not an improv person, it’s not for me,’” he said. “If people don’t like to perform, it’s fine but really believe anybody could do it if they decide to. It’s just getting up there and putting on stage how you perceive the world. There are people that relate to the way you see it and think it’s funny.”
Fultz said his own life sometimes plays out like improv. He recently proposed to his girlfriend, and while most of what he was going to say was planned, he wasn’t surprised when he found himself going off the cuff.
“The way I like life is you have structure, and then you can improvise within that structure,” he said.
Fultz first found a love for theater after his return from a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was driving his sister to a rehearsal for “A Mid-summer’s Night Dream” when somebody convinced him to try out for fun. He ended up landing a big part, which prompted him to join a drama club when he enrolled at LDS Business College.