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Comedy group trains students interested in improv

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Whether students are working in hopes of performing in front of a packed crowd at Senseless Acts of Comedy or enjoying an improvisation hobby, Loose Ends provides the training for both.

An instructional group for students, Loose Ends is facilitated by Senseless Acts of Comedy and allows comedy enthusiasts to get involved with improv on campus, Connor Paden, a Loose Ends coach and member of Senseless Acts of Comedy, said.

“Improv is a form of made-up comedy that is imagined on the spot without a script with audience participation for help,” Paden, a sophomore journalism major, said.

Kelly Ryan, the second Loose Ends coach and member of Senseless Acts of Comedy, said she and Paden run improvisers through drills and games that work on improv skills.

“Basic warm-up games like Snaps, Zip-Zap-Zop and Lay-ups, all word association and reaction games, get everyone ready,” Ryan, a sophomore pre-major, said. “After that, we work on a focus of the day, either scene work, focus change or using the stage.”

Lauren Kesler, a first-year film, television and digital media major, said she enjoys learning more about the art of improv in Loose Ends.

“I love that you don’t have to think about it at all,” she said. “When you do acting that involves scripts, you’re always stressed out and thinking you’re going to forget a line. With improv, you can just go out there and say whatever comes to mind.”

Ryan said everyone in Loose Ends works together for the first 30 minutes of practice. Then, members are divided into beginner and intermediate groups for the last hour and a half.

“The groups are determined by commitment to Loose Ends,” she said. “If someone comes to Loose Ends consistently, they will be taught at a higher level with games that are more difficult.”

Loose Ends started in fall 2006 by university graduates Grayson Howe and Michael Flusche. Paden said the two created the group after friends expressed interest in learning about or becoming a part of Senseless Acts of Comedy.

Paden, who was a member of Loose Ends as a first-year student, said few people were part of the group when he was involved. Now, close to 15 improvisers show up to each practice.

Ryan said Howe and Flusche called the group Loose Ends because none of the members were related in any other way except for sharing an interest in improvisation.

“We have brought up changing the name multiple times, but we keep sticking with it. My guess is since we can't come up with anything better, neither could the person who originally thought of the name,” Ryan said.

Paden said that while most Loose Ends improvisers try out for Senseless Acts of Comedy at the end of each semester, being involved in the organization is not a requirement.

“Those who show up to Loose Ends, we’ve seen more, so they might have a bit of an advantage since they have more experience. But by any means that does not mean they are going to get in, nor are the people who have never been to Loose Ends hurt,” he said.

Paden said that Loose Ends opens for Senseless Acts of Comedy every three or four weeks to showcase talent and improvement as a whole.

To provide Loose Ends with more opportunities to perform in front of crowds, Paden said Senseless Acts of Comedy recently started Monday Night Comedy for anyone who would like to perform either individually or in groups.

Kesler said that improv comedy is not only a hobby, but also a way to calm down during busy weeks.

“It’s a great way to relax during the week. Just get two hours when you’re not doing your homework, and it’s a good way to just get loose and have fun,” she said.

Loose Ends meets every Tuesday from 8 to 10 p.m. in the Tom Brown-Pete Wright Commons and anyone is welcome to attend.

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