What happens when 185 cats walk into a bar? Or when a pirate is given an iPhone? Well, it all depends on how the members of Noun Improv are feeling that day.
Noun serves as App State’s only improvisational comedy group, and its mission is to make App State laugh, according to its members.
The group has been around since 1999, when students saw the need to “provide sub-par comedy to a lesser known college in the middle of backwater Boone, North Carolina,” according to the group’s club description.
Almost 20 years later, the troupe is still putting on improv shows around Boone. The shows involve a series of improvised games, where the improvisors keep the games going by being quick on their feet. Audience participation is essential to the process. Some of the improv games include rap battles, random scene changes and a variety of props. One game even features a blindfolded improviser on stage with a bunch of set mouse traps.
The group focuses on confidence building.
“I used to hate public speaking, or class presentations,” senior management major Tyler Willeford, president of Noun, said. “Improv forces you to go up on stage entirely unprepared on purpose and then also forces you to have whatever you create from thin air to be funny.”
The group serves as a safe space for improvisors to act and react, while adding their own comedic flair to whatever scene they are placed in.
Mandi Burnison, sophomore english secondary education major, did theater in high school, but always had improv in the back of her mind.
“I saw their table set up at Club Expo during my freshman year and I signed up as a spur of the moment thing,” Burnison said. “Noun has become a type of family for me. It has provided me with a lot of joy, and I always look forward to practices because it is always very stress-relieving being able to just joke around with some of my favorite people”
The group is close, and serves as a place of comfort and ease for its members. The improvisors are encouraged to be themselves and find their comedic voice.
“The people in Noun when I started were amazing, not only as improvisers but as people,” Willeford said. “We became very close and they were massive role models for me through college. So, Noun used to mean a lot to me because it was a great opportunity to have fun and perform, but now this year it means more to me that I get to try and be that role model for other people.”
Murilo Artese, senior electronic media/broadcasting major, recently had the opportunity to travel to Scotland for an internship, and said the trip was due to his involvement with improv.
“Improv has been very important to me because it has allowed me to be able to say yes more and to accept the environment around me, which is improv’s number one rule: ‘Always say yes,’” Artese said.
When asked what his favorite part of improv is, Willeford spoke on the “magical” feeling that comes along with improv.
“My favorite part of improv is the magic,” Willeford said. “Really any time you feel that ‘How did they do that?’ feeling, that’s the magic of it,”
Noun had its big Legends show on Nov. 14 and created a one-of-a-kind show, all dependent on the suggestions the audience brought in.
In preparation for the Legends show, which serves as Noun’s biggest show of the semester, Noun traveled to Greenville, South Carolina, where members attended a comedy festival over the summer. During the festival, they watched improv and went through workshop lessons with professional comedians. They learned a lot at this festival and brought their new knowledge back to Boone in preparation for the new semester, Artese said.
The group has many more shows planned throughout the rest of the semester and into the next, hoping to fulfill their goal of making App State laugh.
Story by Daisy Tucker, A&E Reporter
Photo courtesy of Noun Improv
Featured photo caption: Members of Noun Improv performing at Legends on Nov. 14.