Improv Athens, a comedy improv troupe at the University of Georgia, hosts free and interactive improv comedy shows every Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Zell B. Miller Learning Center.
The troupe has been active for over a decade, during which they’ve competed in many national competitions, including the College Improv Tournament held in Chicago, Illinois. Last year, the troupe placed third in the tournament and they hope to return next year.
Improv Athens co-president Miles Calderon, a senior philosophy major, has been with the troupe since his freshman year at UGA and has traveled to Chicago for the tournament with the troupe before.
“It's just a great time for the troupe to bond and also see improv on a big stage with professional shows,” Calderon said.
Outside of improv competitions, the weekly shows put on by the troupe provide another avenue for them to show off their skills. The Friday evening performances include audience participation, based on the ideas that audience members recommend to them.
The performance is broken up into two sections, one short-form section and the other long-form. The short-form section is made up of different structured and fast-paced improv games, while the long-form section is a story that develops over 25 minutes.
Jackson Vassy, a freshman microbiology major, has attended the past couple of Improv Athens shows with his friends.
“The show is amazing. They are hilarious. I heard about them through their Instagram page and they were at the Engagement Fair,” Vassy said. “They just seemed like such wonderful people so I started coming to their shows every week.”
Improv Athens member Joe McDaniel, a junior mechanical engineering major, joined the troupe this past semester and believes the more time the troupe spends together, the easier it is for them to perform as a cohesive unit.
“We rehearse, including the show and open rehearsal, four times a week, so there's a lot of time to get to know everyone,” McDaniel said. “One of the biggest things of improv is knowing who you're doing it with, and as long as you're comfortable with those people, it's a lot easier.”
Along with their Friday shows, the troupe hosts open rehearsals on Wednesdays where anyone can join to perform improv games and receive improv lessons.
“I would urge anyone to come, even if they just want to watch, because it's very open and it's a safe, not judging, environment,” McDaniel said.