By Kirby Davis, The Miami Student
Miami's improv group, Sketched Out, held its first show of the year Oct. 23 and treated the audience to a night of rap battles, Donald Trump impersonations and John Cena jokes.
The group performs games that range from imitating audience members while reading their tweets to acting out "slideshows" of people's lives to a sketch called "Good Advice, Bad Advice, Worst Advice." Each was met with uproarious laughter from the packed crowd.
"Improv is like a muscle," said first-year Sketched Out member Emma Shibley.
Sketched Out's shows are entirely improvised, but they do rehearse certain games every week that they later model performances after.
Shibley says she feels more comfortable taking risks now, and attributes her successful transition into the group to the support system her improv friends have provided.
Junior team member Amanda White also credits Sketched Out with not merely bringing out her fun, silly side, but having a much deeper effect on her as a person.
"Sketched Out and improv . . . have not made me more funny," White said. "They've made me comfortable in my own skin, being the silly, authentic and always-laughing person."
In such a small, tight-knit team, support from one another is crucial.
"We seek to support each other to make the best possible creative environment," said Sketched Out President Christian Corpora. "Humor is a by-product of us supporting each other because we are all naturally funny people."
Though there can be competition to be heard onstage and get attention from the audience, the group dynamic is strong. Over fall break, the members of Sketched Out traveled to Chicago, where they attended a professional improv workshop and several shows.
Each major city has its own unique, general approach to the subject, and Chicago's improv scene is well known around the country.
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"That trip is what starts to solidify the team dynamic and help people to feel connected to the larger team," Corpora said.
Even for those who have experience performing improv, Sketched Out shows can still be nerve-wracking.
"The most challenging part of improv for me is fear," said Corpora. "When you're improvising, there is so much to be afraid of."
These fears include failing to generate a positive response from the audience and freezing during games. Another concern is self-criticism.
"It can be challenging to leave shows and think about the team performance as a whole, instead of just how I felt I messed up or was not effective as an improviser," said White.
Still, the team members seem to be inspired by the pressure rather than deterred. Sketched Out, they agree, is much more rewarding than challenging.
"An improv team is about so much more than doing make-em-ups on a stage," Corpora said. "We make magic together."
Their next show, "Parrot-Normal Activity," will take place at 8 p.m. Oct. 30 and 31 in Wilks Theater.