Two nights a week, MU brings the laughs

Mizzou is home to two improv troupes, Comedy Wars and MU Improv.

When the world is full of doom and gloom, when relationship problems and finals have you down, there is hope. MU is home to two separate improv troupes to make you smile: Comedy Wars and MU Improv. You can even watch both groups in the same week –– MU Improv performs at 9 p.m. on Tuesdays in The Shack, and the Comedy Warriors battle it out at 9 p.m. on Wednesdays in Bengal Lair.

Improvisational comedy came to MU just before the turn of the millennium, with Comedy Wars’ first show in December of 1999. After a semester of open auditions and cuts, founder Todd Geritz assembled the first band of comedy warriors at MU. Today’s cast includes Zach Beattie, Clint Cannon, Drew Kohler, Jake Wallach, Abigail English and Kyle Gunby.

MU Improv is a newer group, getting its start in 2009. Created by Dr. Matt Fotis, an MU alumnus and current assistant professor of theater at Albright College, MU Improv grew from a handful of improv enthusiasts to its current size of about 30.

The main difference between the two clubs is the form of improv that they perform. The Warriors stick with the short form, doing short comedy games and sketches based on creating new characters and settings with the help of audience participation. MU Improv, on the other hand, prefers the long form, which focuses on character and plot building as the scene plays out.

“I have been a lifelong student of comedy and made it a point to get involved in improv in college,” says MU Improv alumnus Caleb Doyle. “I love the long-form structure called The Harold. It’s very freeing and also bonds the audience and players together through intricate story-building.”

Wallach, a current Comedy Warrior and the president of MU Improv, was interested in comedy as soon as he got to school.

“I talked to the previous president of MU Improv Dillon Cassidy over Summer Welcome and started going to open practices my freshman year,” he says.

The future looks bright for these two clubs, as MU Improv had two teams go to nationals for improv, including regional champion and runner-up for two of its comedy troupes.

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