by Sarah McCarthy
Theatre Sports, the premier improv comedy group at Whitman, kicked off their season last Tuesday.
As usual when they perform, the crowd was already starting to form half an hour early. By the time the show started, late-comers found standing room only, with students crammed along the sides and back of Maxey auditorium.
While many of the freshmen had seen improv groups before, the Whitman group’s reputation for off-beat humor had preceded them. Several expected that the show would be “a lot raunchier” than any improv they had seen in high school. Some students were a little more skeptical about whether T-sports would make it worth their time. “If the first joke isn’t funny, I’m going home,” said junior Roberta Gannett. Luckily, the first joke passed muster and Roberta stayed.
The opening game of Tuesday’s show was “The Incredible Growing and Shrinking Machine” which, as the team was quick to point out, shortens to the handy acronym “IGASM.” The scene began with the suggestion “sandwich.” The scene thus started out simply, with team member Sarah Hathaway making a sandwich. One by one, though, the other team members came in and each of them was required to completely change the nature of the scene. Each new member then leaves one by one, until only the original actor and the original scene remains. Like many of their games “IGASM” takes quick thinking and an excellent memory.
Other games played at this show included “Press Conference” “Theatre Styles” “Story, Story, Die” “American Musical” and “Monologue, Monologue, Monologue.” The highlights of the show were arguably “American Musical” in which junior Matt Aliabadi played Cher in an on-the-spot musical entitled “Cher Didn’t Do It,” and the impersonations of anime characters that Jeff Wilson, Kim Wetter and Eric Wehlitz gave during “Theatre Styles.”
While Matt Aliabadi, Sarah Hathaway, Stephen Carter, Dru Johnston, Eric Wehlitz, Kim Wetter, Caitlin Schoenfelder, Jeff Wilson, Ben Kegan and Ezra Fox might make it look easy on stage, it takes more than just a sharp wit to be a successful member of T-sports.
The team practices three nights a week and last spring went to Chicago to learn more from improv troupes Second City and ImprovOlympic. When questioned how they stay so up on pop culture, senior Johnston explained that they don’t really work on that part. “Some of us are just really good at it and they tell everyone else what they need to know. Then again, at Whitman we get very scholarly suggestions. I doubt there are many other schools where “Sappho” is a frequent request.”
There are lots of things to enjoy about being a member of T-sports. Johnston said that his favorite part is the team atmosphere while Aliabadi said more simply that his favorite part was “failure.” To be on T-sports, though, both agreed that you have to be “a team player who’s willing to commit and willing to help make everyone else look good on stage.” The team has no fixed number and has ranged from ten to seventeen players in the last four years. As a hint for all those interested in auditioning, Johnston gave wise advice: “If you’re not nervous, it won’t be good. If you don’t think, it’s a lot better.”