Baylor comedy improv troupe flexes funny bones

Baylor’s Guerrilla Comedy Troupe stretches their improv chops. The ensemble practices at 11 p.m. Tuesdays in the art lobby of Hooper-Shaefer Fine Arts Center. Courtesy of the Guerrilla Troupe
Baylor’s Guerrilla Comedy Troupe stretches their improv chops. The ensemble practices at 11 p.m. Tuesdays in the art lobby of Hooper-Shaefer Fine Arts Center.
Courtesy of the Guerrilla Troupe
By Adam Harris

The art lobby of Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center comes alive at 11 p.m. on Tuesdays. In just one night personalities change and new characters emerge as Baylor’s Guerrilla Comedy Troupe holds its weekly practice.

The semester began with discussion on how to improve the audience experience based on the last show. The improvisation group sat around the lobby allowing each member to voice his or her opinion on the show.

The group fed off of each member’s suggestions much like they do in their performances. Humble senior Jessie Gonzales said the support of her fellow troupe members is crucial for success.

“Everybody has your back. Everyone in the troupe wants you to succeed,” Gonzales said. “If you put something out there that doesn’t necessarily work, then your scene partner is there to help you make it work.”

Guerrilla Troupe, which is run by the 14 students in the group, started in the spring of 2000. The team operates in a style similar to ABC’s “Whose Line is it Anyway?” and performs improvisation games in front of an audience.

Their practice includes participating in many of these games to keep members thinking on the fly. One game forced two members to go through the alphabet to begin each exchange in dialogue. One member would start their sentence with the letter “A” in an attempt to set their scene partner up for a sentence that starts with a “B.”

This exchange was only one of the many games the team practiced as they pulled late hours in the lobby. Sulphur Springs senior Brittney Woolley said knowing the other members well translates to their on-stage chemistry.

“We’ve all learned what type of humor we are,” Woolley said. “I’ve learned from experience that I’m a very physical humor type of person. It’s much easier for me to get in there and do something crazy with my body than it is for me to get in there with a witty joke.”

Plano senior Patrick Herndon said there are three types of humor that members bring to the table.

“There are the witty, smart people, the physical actors—character actors and then there’s the glue—the people that hold the scene together,” Herndon said. “Those strengths have to be played with each other to make a good scene.”

Herndon said the different types of humor help them decide who will play certain games during the show. He also discussed the difficulty of getting on stage in the first place.

“When you first get into the troupe and the first show you perform at you’re freaking out, you’re sweating, you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, why did I ever join this stupid troupe? Why did I do this?’ Some nights, still, I’ll freak out but then the second the show starts, you forget about everything,” Herndon said. “It turns into this fun, crazy memory that you look back on two weeks, three weeks later and think, ‘That was so much fun.’”

The group usually begins its audition process early in the spring semester and current members must unanimously select the student auditioning.

“You don’t have to be a theater major to be in Guerrilla Troupe,” Gonzales said. She said the group is open to anyone who thinks they’ve got a shot at improvisational comedy.

The members also said knowing they were voted in unanimously was one of the more rewarding moments of their life.

“When I found out, I felt so good about myself,” Herndon said. He said it was an immediate confidence boost and helped him deal with some of the pressure of being funny on the spot.

Guerrilla Troupe will host its next performance this weekend on Friday and Saturday and will have a Halloween theme. The show will be in the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center and tickets are $3.