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Unplanned humor: Senseless Acts of Comedy celebrates 10th year on campus

Members of SAC pile up. Photo by Daniel Ethridge. Members of SAC show off their multi-colored shoes that they wear at each performance. Photo by Daniel Ethridge. Bradley Gosnell. Photo by Daniel Ethridge. Daniel Floren. Photo by Daniel Ethridge. Jeremy Culhane. Photo by Daniel Ethridge. Connor Paden. Photo by Daniel Ethridge. Kelly Ryan. Photo by Daniel Ethridge. Grant Moore. Photo by Daniel Ethridge. Kellye Moore. Photo by Daniel Ethridge. Holly Whitt. Photo by Daniel Ethridge. Ben Yoder. Photo by Daniel Ethridge. Hallie Caruthers. Photo by Daniel Ethridge.
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Multi-colored ties and multi-dimensional talent; that’s what one finds at a Senseless Acts of Comedy (SAC) show.

The TCU students that comprise SAC are from all different majors and backgrounds in improvisation, but each incorporates a piece of their unique identity and style into the troupe.

This close knit group has raked in some serious audience numbers, increasing from an audience filled with a mere group of friends in attendance when the troupe started in 2002, to the 300+ crowd they bring in today. 

All members mentioned that cohesion and chemistry are key reasons why the troupe has thrived in its 2012 fall season. 

The troupe practices short form, a style of improvisation that is high energy, free in form and involves short improvisation games. The games include character games, scene games and situational games.

Each week the comedians put together a digital short that is played at the show to stir up audience energy and show off their scripted talents. One week students might see a musical, public service announcement or tribute to the 90s. 

Expectations are not allowed during a SAC show, as the members and audience never know what they’re in for; whether a joke will flop, be a hit, or be completely unexpected. You might hear some ridiculous thing about elephants or some weirdly serious thing about windows. That’s the beauty of improv, and these students are masters. Nevertheless, this goofy yet brilliant group brings something different to the table every week, keeping audience members coming back for more. 

Grant Moore (Orange tie):

Co-president Grant Moore is getting down to business when it comes to this crazy troupe. His organizational skills and interest in graphic design have helped the group immensely with promotion and getting the troupe’s name known across TCU’s campus. As the mastermind behind the comical videos, this junior film-television-digital media major incorporates the skills he’s learned in the classroom and applies them behind and in front of the camera weekly.

Comedy on the Internet has been the biggest inspiration for his work, as he tries to capture a wide range of material as well as take his own original twist on everyday happenings in pop culture. Moore realized his passion for comedy in high school when he would make comedic videos for fun with his friends. Oftentimes the fun, sometimes embarrassing moments that happen to him and his friends daily become the inspiration for his videos.

Kellye Moore (Silver tie):

You may have seen her half-moon you during a show or play a deaf character with a mom named Stef. Known to dye her hair crazy colors, this silver tied chick is the glue that holds SAC together. Co-president Kellye Moore is SAC’s oldest member of the group and has been a part of the troupe since her freshman year.

Today, SAC does not accept first year students during tryouts; they first must participate in “Loose Ends,” otherwise known as SAC’s improv workshop.

The troupe veteran was inspired to join SAC as well as attend TCU after seeing the then group of four perform at Mondays at TCU.

“Even If I couldn’t perform in the troupe, I knew I had to be a part of it somehow,” she said.

While Grant is the president that handles business-type affairs, Kelly is the improv mastermind of the group. She hosts, leads and teaches the members during practices and pre-shows. She uses skills and games she’s picked up from former members who have been her mentors to lead the group to success.

After she graduates in December, the FTDM major said she hopes the troupe builds upon their already great communication and community, as those are the reasons why it has thrived this season.

Jeremy Culhane (Green tie):

The name’s Jeremy Culhane, and improv is his game. With four years of high school improv under his belt, Culhane joined the troupe in 2011 ready to jump into the university’s improv scene without looking back. The junior philosophy and economics double major with a minor in theatre has a mouthful of plans for himself, but making a career out of improv is top priority.

He said he hopes to head to Los Angeles or Chicago to make his name known in one of these bustling cities. He said he enjoys being a part of a group that can make fun of each other and have a good time, while enjoying a communal way to celebrate comedy. The unpredictable nature of comedy keeps him coming back for more, and sharing laughter with the members and audience is an experience not easily comparable.

Kelly Ryan (Purple tie):

This SAC newcomer is in no way a stranger to the likes of comedy. Kelly Ryan, seen wearing the purple tie on stage, landed a spot in SAC with a 6 week New York program, experience on Broadway, and a whole lot of spunk in her repertoire. Ryan realized her love for stand up after her friends dared her to go up and start talking and telling jokes during a talent show meant for singing and dancing in high school.

The audience got a kick out of her humor, and her new talent was realized. From that moment, the once shy valedictorian of her high school broke out of her shell and found her comedic identity, and it has taken her farther than she ever imagined. Her chameleon-like ways of transforming into a vast variety characters has made her a force to be reckoned in SAC, and she said becoming a member has been one of the most validating decisions she’s ever made.

For her, coming to practices with SAC every week is the best way to get outside of her comfort zone, as she admits she oftentimes likes to fall into five go-to characters (including her infamously hilarious Asian characters). For her, humor and a bad mouth go hand in hand, as her first words on the SAC stage may not have been the cleanest. But luckily for her, the audience is always dazzled by her natural stage presence. 

Ben Yoder (MC, bow tie):

MC Yoder rocks his bowtie and runs the show as he gets the crowd excited at weekly SAC shows. He auditioned last semester as a first-year student for the part by telling a funny story and had the judges mesmerized by his natural humor.

“I told a story about how freshman year I was in Milton Daniel meeting a friend, and down the hall I saw a girl in a bathing suit looking as if she was ready to hit the pool," Yoder said. "Then I hear her yell ‘Guys, it’s not a pool party, it’s a party for swimmers!’ I thought it was hilarious."

His favorite moment in SAC so far has been the first show this fall, when over 300 people were in attendance.

“I had one side shouting ‘Ben’ and the other side ‘Yoder.' It was an awesome first show,” he said.

Increased promotion is what he says has brought the audience numbers up and the troupe’s morale up as a whole. His biggest priority is the audience and making sure they feel like part of the SAC family. Introducing each game and familiarizing the audience is part of getting them acquainted with SAC’s style.

Holly Whitt (Teal tie):

The teal-tied senior uses Thursday night performances on the SAC stage as an escape. The biology major spends her week hitting the books and was desperate for a way to blow off some steam. With that, she discovered improv.

Saturday Night Live was what she knew of comedy growing up, before she understood what half the jokes even meant.

“I always liked comedy, but I never had a good outlet for it until improv,” she said.

SAC brings a unique twist to the TCU campus, which is something that attracted Whitt to the group. The self-proclaimed “pessimist” or “dry humored” one of the group enjoys calling her troupe members out while still keeping it light-hearted and fun.  As a senior, she said that this year she hopes to see the group move up even more in audience members and gain more comedic respect in the TCU community.

Bradley Gosnell (Red tie):

People may know Bradley Gosnell as the “red and bearded” SAC member, or even as the “cute theatre kid” of the troupe (but in actuality, these are all names he has given himself).

But one thing we do know is that he puts the oil in the mechanics of the show. The junior theatre major brings his theatre background center stage during improv performances, as well as brings a range of styles under his belt. 

The California native brought an angle of improv from his experiences and has immersed them with the Texan style SAC practices today. Focus, tempo and energy are what he has deemed as keys to success during an improv performance. He has taken advantage of using older SAC members as well as graduated members in learning how to improve as a member.

“Letting yourself be helped by others is one of the biggest strengths to have in improv,” he said.

Performing on stage is his dream, and improv has only strengthened his skills to get there. He’s all about the technicality of performance, as he warms up vocally before shows as well as goes home and writes notes for himself after. But he’s also not a bit afraid to admit when he fails.

“For one of our intro videos, I came up with a skit where I wanted to be a patient and get my reflexes tested, but instead of kicking, I would end up punching the nurse,” he said. “I went to the health center to see if we could film it with one of the nurses there and approached the receptionist by saying ‘I want to punch one of your nurses’. They looked at me like I was crazy.”

Connor Paden (blue tie):

The troupe’s youngest member, Connor Paden, is anything but amateur when it comes to giving a good performance. The former high school jock was turned off by the idea of improv in high school, but ended up falling love with the comedy style.

He peps the group up daily with his team spirit approach he learned in high school sports. He admits puns are his favorite, and he brings a good balance of corky-ness and awkwardness to the already diverse group. Whether he’s writing a poem to Kristen Stewart for cheating on Robert Pattinson or performing on “News Later,” SAC’s version of SNL’s Weekend Update, he’s brought an interesting flare to the group.

“If I’m ever half as funny as any of these guys, I’ll feel extremely accomplished,” he said.

The first-year SAC member and sophomore sports broadcasting and journalism double major has discovered that improv has helped him think on his feet and experience being a team player through a different means at TCU.

Hallie Caruthers (No tie, in white):

Hallie Caruthers, the unofficial “team mom” and official tech of SAC, didn’t experience the world of improv until discovering SAC at TCU.

“I told my mom I wanted to do improv and she was like ‘Are you kidding me? You were so shy in high school!” Caruthers said.

The former high school valedictorian has finally broke out of her shell in SAC and her improv career has blossomed. She frequents Dallas Comedy House where she takes classes and workshops, and hopes to graduate from her current program and get into a troupe there.

She describes herself as the listener and sympathizer of the troupe, keeping the group grounded. As the tech of the troupe, Caruthers stays behind the scenes, running music and cutting the scenes, but she admits she yearns to be on stage performing with the others and looks forward to hopefully getting promoted to an official performer in the coming semester.

“I love creating this art form with everyone,” she said.

The senior and SAC newcomer said that she joined her senior year because she was constantly busy in previous years, but now improv has changed her life and she said she wishes she had discovered it sooner. 

Daniel Floren (Pink Tie):

 As the resident “nice guy” of the troupe, Daniel Floren rocks his pink tie and embraces his love of film as a member of SAC. Floren first learned about SAC in TCU Announce, not knowing anyone personally in the troupe. Since then, SAC has become his primary group of friends that he said are the most open and accepting group of people he’s ever been a part of.

“When I hang out with people, go to parties or even just have a bad day, the member of SAC are the ones I turn to,” he said.

The senior FTDM major and theatre minor said that SAC opened his eyes to the world of improv, and improv has had a positive effect on his acting. The enjoyment he gets out of the shows comes from the close-knit bond he has with his fellow troupe-mates as well as the audience.

“SAC has put me with a network of people that have been some of my closest friends at TCU,” he said. “It’s not just the group that comprise this network, it’s audience members too.”

From playing a character of an angry father or the super sweet best friend, Floren has a wide range he plays around with during shows. He said he hopes to write a book about improv one day and how it relates to everyday life.

Quirky, fun and never dull, this troupe highlights some of the talent TCU has amongst its campus. SAC always brings hilarious and entertaining moments to the table without much direction as they preserve the art of improv in it's true and rawest form.

No filter, no structure, and no judgements is what they're all about. Audience interaction is key, so expect to be thrown into one or two of their improv games.

The videos that open their shows can be seen on SAC's Youtube page, with some of their digital shorts reaching 2,000 hits.

See their talent unfold Thursdays in the Brown-Lupton University Union auditorium weekly at 9 p.m or participate in their workshop "Loose Ends" to learn the ropes of improv Tuesday nights. Who knows, you might end up opening for SAC or starring in the show yourself. 

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