SAR improv group sparks laughs

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A ballet rivalry, a silverware factory and a potato farm were just a few of the scenes audience members witnessed at Some Assembly Required (SAR)’s first show of the year on Friday, Sept. 13.

The UNI improv comedy troupe performs monthly at the ThreeHouse: A Wesley Foundation. The troupe also travels to perform with other comedy groups, hosts workshops and participates in competitions and festivals. SAR was founded six years ago and currently consists of six members. They hope to cast two or three more members for this school year.

Over 100 UNI community members attended Friday’s event.

“We like it when people have to sit on the floor,” said Micah Criscuolo, SAR member and senior general studies major.

The troupe played a variety of improv games, almost all of which were centered around topics suggested by audience members. One of the first games, “Press Conference,” involved an improviser guessing his identity, with the help of the other five improvisers in the audience asking questions as reporters and journalists to help him. 

Other games included “Late to Work,” in which one improviser explained to his boss why he was late, based on the two “coworkers” behind the boss acting out excuses provided by the audience.

Another crowd favorite was “Four Square,” where four improvisers were each assigned a scenario to act out and rotated scenes in a fashion similar to the childhood game Four Square. A “director” stood on the sidelines calling out when to switch left or right in the middle of the scenes, which then picked up from where they left off when their scene rotated back to the front. Scene suggestions from the audience included sexy pants, taco, frogs, new cars, George Lopez, running out of soap and getting a really bad cramp. 

First-time audience member Isabella Pedersen said she loved the game “Montage,” where all members improvised several scenes loosely formed around one suggestion from the audience.

“They just kept coming up with the funniest editions,” she said.

Abby Wiese, a repeat attendee of SAR shows, said she was a fan of the jokes and puns in the show and that SAR brings joy into her life.

Dan Noonan-Day, a senior political science major at Hawkeye Community College, has been a member of SAR for over a year and loves the relationships he has built with the other members of the team.

“It seems a little nerve-wracking right at first, but you really just have to get into the mindset that it’s all about teamwork and just working off each other,” Noonan-Day said.

Noonan-Day’s favorite game is called “Conductor,” which shows a story told by a line of improvisors each contributing their own pieces of information. 

Sophomore computer science major Isaac Zeimetz joined the troupe last year as a freshman. His brother was part of the original troupe, and Zeimetz said it had always been a dream of his to be on the team. Zeimetz’s favorite type of improv is long form, a less-structured form of improv.

“It tells a real story without making you feel tied down,” he said. “It feels more organic.”

Zeimetz stressed that doing improv helps improve one’s communication skills and thinking on one’s toes.

Other SAR members Micah Criscuolo, Alex Finn and Caitlyn Niehus said they loved the improv troupe as a creative outlet and way to have fun.

“You work with what you get in life, and so this is kind of practice for that in a really weird, off-canter way,” said Niehus, a senior elementary education major.

According to Finn, the troupe gets most of their games from the “Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy Improvisation Manual” by Matt Walsh, as well as from traditions passed down from past members. However, members have also invented some games themselves.

For example, “Love Stories” is a game created by the troupe that involves creating and performing poems live on stage based on audience suggestions. This is a favorite for Finn, a senior public relations major who plans to use his SAR experience to help plan and schedule acts for comedy theaters and other live events.

The troupe encourages anybody with or without improvisation experience to audition for SAR. Auditions will be held at ThreeHouse at 2422 College St on Monday, Sept. 16, Wednesday, Sept. 18, and Thursday, Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 21 at 1 p.m. Auditions will consist of different improv games for the troupe to see who meshes well with their dynamic.

“You also have to remember that while we’re trying to see if you match us,” Niehus said. “You also have to come in with a mindset that you’re trying us out, too. You’re also auditioning to see if you like us.”