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UNT Improv Horror Show: Frighteningly Familiar

UNT Improv Horror Show: Frighteningly Familiar

UNT Improv Horror Show: Frighteningly Familiar
October 10
21:37 2019

Improv comedy, the art of performing a show completely made by the actors in the moment, requires actors to be quick-witted and naturally funny enough to keep an audience laughing for an hour by the seat of their pants. With a classic slasher film structure and a feeling of comradery, UNT Improv’s Horror Show can feel frighteningly familiar to anyone going through the human experience.

So, what exactly is Horror Show and how does it work? Troupe member Nikolas Zukowsky spoke on what makes the new ‘slasher film’ every Wednesday night this October in the Eagle Student Services Center room 255 at 9:30 pm.

Madeline Kutac clings onto Riley Tamblyn during UNT Improv’s Improvised Horror Show rehearsal on Oct. 6, 2019. Image by Isabel Anes

“Horror show is basically an hour-long improvised horror film,” Zukowsky said. “So we pull troupes and archetypes from cheesy eighties horror movies and we kind of parody them and just put it on in the form of improv. We have the typical characters like the nerd, the jock, the joker, stuff like that and we basically just create a horror movie.”

UNT Improv Officer Ryan Castle said that they base their improv show on the title of a horror film, which they get from the audience.

“The title gives little base line things and then we expand off of that,” Castle said. “All of these characters are assigned by the audience as well. We have a troupe of six people and we’ll say ‘Alright, what is Nick tonight? Nick is going to be the nerd and we’ll give him the glasses and suspenders.'”

Castle said that the improviser can pick what they want to do in the show or who their character falls in love with.

“It’s great when another character gives you a trait about your character,” Castle said. “[The improviser] has to go along with what you create and what the other improvisers around you create.”

It’s an interesting take on how horror themed entertainment can be consumed, Vice President Noah Masey said, and this speaks volumes for the club as it wraps the theatre experience with college traditions.

“We have tradition wrapped in ours,” Masey said. “You only do it once a year and you look forward to it. College kids love traditions and it feels like everyone’s just a little more involved. Going to see a horror movie, once you see it, it’s done. But with this, it’s something new every time, so the fact that you can come and kind of have that theatre-style experience because you’re all with a group of people reacting to these grotesque or super silly things.”

McKenna Hyde cries after the death of Deirdre Wolf’s character during UNT Improv’s rehearsal on Oct. 6, 2019. Image by Isabel Anes

What makes Horror show so funny, however, isn’t necessarily the jokes. Rather, Masey said it’s the relatability of improv itself that makes Wednesdays so enjoyable for audiences. Oftentimes audience members can connect with whatever the characters do or feel.

“It’s not just comedy, the professional world uses improv in the workspace in day-to-day because it’s about listening, it’s about understanding,” Masey said. “It’s about making a decision despite not knowing where you’re going forward, so there’s just really some core concepts that go beyond just making people laugh, it’s making people aware of what’s going on with you. Doing that in front of people pushes you into it.”

Although improv comedy may seem nerve-racking, performers such as President Juliana Cohen see it as an opportunity for anyone to get out of your comfort zone and overcome the fears faced beyond just this Halloween season.

“This is the place to go if you’re really self-conscious, your insecurities will go away,” Cohen said. “What improv does is that it shows you [that] we all feel that way, you’re not special, so just put it out on the stage and we can all relate to it and laugh about it together and it just doesn’t feel so embarrassing anymore when everyone’s on the same page. It just teaches you to be more open minded to situations because in improv whatever is brought on to the stage you can’t say no to it. You have to go with it and that’s kind of how life is, life is going to throw things at you.”

UNT Improv can be found on Instagram at @unt_improv or on Twitter at @untimprov.

Featured Image: Zak Harbula pretends to shave off Ryan Castle’s leg hair during their troupe’s act at the UNT Improv rehearsal on Oct. 6, 2019. Image by Isabel Anes

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Jordan Kidd

Jordan Kidd

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