Donald Trump, Oprah Winfrey and a boy who barked whenever a question was asked were seen on stage Oct. 21-22 at Yeager Recital Hall. Instant Laughter, Elon University's improvisational comedy troupe, performed 10 different improvisation games with help from audience suggestions.
Auditions for the group are held in the fall and the show is performed while the musical theater department has an in-between — "The Memorandum" just closed and "Parade" is in tech rehearsals.
According to Fred Rubeck, director, professor of performing arts and chair of the department of performing arts, the show requires no scenery or lighting, making it easy to entertain the homecoming visitors.
"We always try to have audience favorites from the past and some new things we’ve learned from training sessions," Rubeck said.
To prepare for the show, the group practiced the games with different partners and different scenarios to figure out what works and what doesn't work for each. They also follow the rule to always say, "Yes," and to not negate any suggestions to keep the story going.
The games included scenarios such as, "What Are You Doing?," where each member had to perform a physical action such as washing the car, but come up with a different meaning such as looking at your manicure.
Another games was "Russian Roulette," where two members acted out the movie "Finding Nemo" in a minute and a half, 30 seconds and finally five seconds.
"The hardest part is when you get a suggestion and you don’t know what it means, or you're not sure how to do it, so you have that sudden moment of, 'How do I do this?'" said junior Daniel Roth, Instant Laughter member. "You have to commit to whatever happens, and it doesn’t matter because 10 seconds later it's over and no one remembers it."
Audience members were able to laugh along while participating by guessing characters and giving out suggestions.
"I though it was great," said sophomore Rachel Pusey. "It was different than I expected. It was a lot funnier than I expected but it also was just a lot newer material than I expected. I didn’t see it coming."
Though the same games are played each night and the same 12 members perform, each show is different.
Every time each game is played there is a different set of members participating as well as different suggestions given by the audience for characters, locations and emotions. This allows for unexpected twists for each show.
"There's so many different stories that happen – so many different stories you get to experience," Roth said. "It's really fun because when you go to a play, you know exactly what story you’re going to see, but when you see improv, you’ll see 50 different stories."