Improv group brings new element of comedy to campus

by Jonathan Dermid – jbdermid@unca.edu – Staff Writer

Before last year, UNC Asheville never featured the unique art of improv comedy, but thanks to the efforts of the FM Improv Company, this spontaneous art is coming to life on campus.

“Improv opened up this whole new world for me,” said Colette Heiser, political science student and head of the FM Improv Company. “I was never big into acting before, but improv is so much fun because you have to let go of it after it’s done, and it’s so interactive. When I started doing improv, it was so new and so different, because what happens has never happened before and will never happen again.”

This type of spontaneity also attracted Tommy Moore, a sophomore environmental studies student, to improvisation. “I love the freedom of improv. I play music too, and improv reminds me of it. The mindset of having no distractions and being open to any idea is the basis of it. Just hearing an idea and working off of that is in music and improv, and the fact that they related so well is why I picked this kind of theater,” Moore said.

Last year, Moore and Heiser formed the FM Improv Company, based on their mutual love for the art and a mutual hometown.

“I was on my high school improv team my senior year, and when I got to UNCA I was looking for a way to do more improv. I found out there wasn’t any kind of improv group here, and that’s when I met Colette. We kind of knew each other, but not really, because she went to Chapel Hill High and I went to to East Chapel Hill High, but we finally met here and both found out we loved improv. Last year, me and her and a couple others started just messing around in the Founder’s Lounge and getting random people to play with us, and after a while we just decided to make it a real club.”

This kind of immediate response and support led to open tryouts for new members, of which Sydney Gura, an undeclared student from Winston-Salem, participated. Gura is new to the group this year and is getting acquainted with the world of improv.

“It seemed really foreign to me, but I figured I would just throw myself into it completely and see if I liked it. I didn’t really have a drama background, but I danced pretty much my whole life, so I feel like I have a background in art. Improv is really interesting. I’m still getting used to it. It opens you up in such a weird way, because it makes you think about situations in such a different way, and it makes you really adaptable,” Gura said.

The group has continued to find support on campus, which was a welcome surprise to Heiser. 

“We’ve had a lot of support on campus so far. We had a lot of people come out to tryouts when we first started, and then last year, we had some people who had never even seen improv before come out and love it. It was so nice to just be doing something that we have fun doing and have other people like it,” Heiser said.

As far as future plans for the group, their goal is to take the improv show off campus.

“We want to do some open workshops, but right now we’re just working on our team. We’re having a show this semester, and we definitely want to take it to some festivals like LEAF and maybe do some workshops there. We also want to go to the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival in February in Carrboro,” Heiser said.

These open workshops encourage the kind of participation necessary when practicing improv, and Heiser finds them important.

“Comedy is so healing and freeing for people, so that’s definitely another motivation behind wanting to do these open workshops in the future,” Heiser said

The FM Improv Company will premiere their first show in the Highsmith Grotto on Oct. 29, with more shows and workshops to follow next semester.

 

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