First Time Offenders improve improv

A sign of good entertainment is catching yourself smiling””probably with an embarrassingly goofy grin””throughout an entire performance.

First Time Offenders is that type of show.

Inspired by the infamous comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade, FTO was formed a few years ago with the intention of being an improv/parody/sketch comedy group. The organization was originally a subgroup under the Trinity University Players, but FTO decided to break away in order to pursue different funding and leadership opportunities. The relationship between the student-run theatre company and the improv group remains completely amicable, and crossover is seen between the two organizations.

“Essentially the two are sister organizations. This is the first year, though, that we broke away from TUPS and had a chance to recruit people and get people really interested in our club,” said Marcella Muysson, a sophomore biology major and a core member of FTO.

FTO is all about saying “yes” and trusting each other. To members, it is about challenging themselves to become better at improv, although ultimately making people laugh is the main goal.

“We are trying to improve our improv skills””thinking of things on the fly and just running with it. So, not only is FTO super entertaining, but it translates really well into life,” said Shelby Seier, a senior theatre major and president of FTO.

Members of FTO admit that improv is no easy feat. It goes against every level of comfort that humans are innately used to. Therefore, it is important during sketches to ask few questions and to remain completely focused. It is essential for members to be open to new things, to say “yes” and to “go with the flow.” They must be open to anything and everything, while taking risks without the fear of failure.

“I think there is a component where you have to have some sort of natural ability, but anyone can learn to improvise,” Seier said.

Every Friday at 3 p.m., FTO hosts “improv jams” that are open to everyone, no experience necessary. They play games, work on technique and focus on improvement of improvisational skills. The rule of thumb is that the more you play, the better you get.

This year, the group is looking to incorporate long-form into their routine. Long-form is a type of comedy predicated on producing longer, more intricate scenes that really tell a story. This evolvement of FTO from past years is also evident in the type of humor they incorporate into sketches.

“Our quality of jokes has really changed from last year. We focus a lot more on technique this semester. The types of jokes we make this semester have changed in a positive way”¦ we have expanded our joke range,” Muysson said.

Junior human communication major Andrea Medina says her favorite part of the show is getting to see friends and colleagues perform on stage.

“Maddie Smith is my favorite, especially her optimism and joviality,” Medina said.

FTO hosts two semester shows in which they play games in front of the audience. In addition, they host two parody shows that occur after main stage shows, such as “Pippin” or “Body Awareness.” Their next show is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 11.