Arts and EntertainmentFeaturedHoning in on improv troupe “Buddy Buddy”

The independent group enters its third year, planning to continue creating laughable content
Maya Neufeld-WallOctober 17, 2019693 min
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Photo by Leah Woehr

Improv on campus? “Yes, and…” Buddy Buddy is one improv group on campus that characterizes itself by its long-form style, close community of players and professionalism.

The group was founded two years ago by 2019 Trinity alumna Elizabeth Metzger. She was interested in long-form improv and wanted to bring a troupe to campus, so she teamed up with several other students. Together, they worked with coaches at Bexar Stage, a local improv organization in San Antonio, to audition students and start the group.

Buddy Buddy is unique because of its size and structure — the group is small and independent from the university, and they forgo a traditional club officer hierarchy for a community of collaboration.

“There is no power structure,” said sophomore cast member Anthony Tresca. “It’s a community of players — we always sit down and talk through the scene together. It’s great getting to have people watch you in a genuine way.”

The group practices two to three times a week in three-hour increments, beginning with warm-up games before moving on to practice scenes.

“We give each other challenges,” said senior and original member Kerry Madden. “We work on establishing location, motivation and relationship with each other and break down the elements of the scene.”

After working through several scenes, the members sit down to talk through their performance.

“We talk about how it went, things we feel good or strange about. We talk collectively about what we felt, and then we do it again,” Madden said.

Buddy Buddy performs on campus several times a semester and has performed off-campus in collaboration with Bexar Stage as well. They perform in a long-form format, which usually consists of sets that are 20 minutes or longer and begin based on a single suggestion from the audience.

“[With long-form] you get a very interesting world that’s very specific,” Tresca said. “Things from the first scene will come back at the end, and it’s really cool.”

The recurring themes within a long-form set still leave room for detail, creativity and humor.

“You try not to go for the easy joke,” Madden said. “Funniness arises from situations that happen, rather than us grasping for jokes.”

The barrier to dipping one’s toes into improv is simply being willing to try.

“To start doing improv, there’s nothing you can do but try,” said cast member Megan McGuire, a first-year.

McGuire has been a member of Buddy Buddy for only a few weeks but already has learned a lot from working with her cast mates.

“At first I was afraid that I wasn’t good at it or wouldn’t be able to contribute much to the group,” McGuire said. “But everyone is super incredible and are encouraging me to do more.”

Beyond comedic timing and a willingness to go with the flow, there are other elements to what makes an improv troupe click.

“The troupe is so successful because of trust,” Tresca said. “Everybody’s human up there, and not everything works. Nobody really knows where it’s going to go, and it won’t be perfect — it can’t be.”

Although these challenges are important to overcome when working with improv, both Tresca and McGuire agree that there are many skills to be gained as well.

“Being able to speak with people and collaborate is so important,” McGuire said. “I think the skills we use in improv are incredibly useful.”

As to bringing the tools you learn in improv into your daily life, it’s easier than it seems.

“You can utilize improv all the time,” Tresca said. “You learn to be okay with messing up and not saying the right thing, and you learn to say yes to the crazy absurdities that happen in life.”

Buddy Buddy’s next show is this Sunday, Oct. 20, in the Cafe Theater, on the lower floor of the Ruth Taylor Theater Building from 9:30-10:30 p.m. Find them on Facebook for more updates and show information at www.facebook.com/buddybuddyhaha.

Maya Neufeld-Wall

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