Alums improvise a future after graduation
Some of Boston College's funniest can now be found just over the river, turning a hobby into a career
Published: Sunday, September 18, 2005
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Law school. Medical school. Graduate school. Internships that materialize into jobs. As Boston College students work their way from wide-eyed freshmen to real-world-ready seniors, the concept of life after school becomes increasingly limited. In the face of so many options, we tend to close off most of our options.
Fortunately, there is proof of fun after college. At ImprovBoston, a large group of BC grads continues to entertain audiences post-Fleabag, CCE (murder-mystery improv), and Robsham.
The most recent Friday night performance, Girls' Night Out, showcases the talents of three BC alumni.
Directed by Bobby Smith, BC '02, the show is a "completely improvised hour-long slumber party" that invites female audience members to reminisce and male audience members to catch their first glimpse of what it means to be a 13-year-old girl.
Running from Sept. 2 to Oct. 21 on Fridays at 8 p.m., the show stars former Eagles Katie Proulx and Christina Smarz alongside Elise Becker and Mosie McNally as the precocious young girls.
For Smith, the best part of Girls' Night Out is "seeing strong but funny women playing 13-year-old girls - a completely immersive experience in which you are cheering for these girls and so happy when they put something together."
Looking back and laughing at the growing up process is not, however, a new concept for the ImprovBoston troupe. Girls' Night Out is being advertised as a female version of the highly successful show, Fort Awesome.
"Two friends and I were being ridiculous on a camping trip," said Smith, "We ended up making a show out of it, and it went over tremendously well."
So well that it made an appearance at the Toronto Improv Festival in August and has continued to delight audiences in its new female form.
In addition to the 8 p.m. Friday night show, which changes every two months, ImprovBoston currently offers "five nights of funny" - a series of different shows every Wednesday through Sunday night. Shows range from Friday night's Theatersports (think Whose Line is it Anyway?) to Wednesday night's The Hump (the comedic stylings of visiting troupes) to Saturday night's main stage performances. Audience involvement varies from night to night depending upon the structure of the show itself. For those interested in pure improv with limited staging, Smith suggests the main stage show, which "pushes the envelope artistically." It was on the main stage that Smith and his fellow actors first honed Fort Awesome, turning it into a hit.
ImprovBoston is just one example of BC students finding success in comedy. A stomping ground for funny people, the school has produced a small army of comedians, from writers to improv actors to radio and television personalities.
Whether students are looking to pursue comedy as a full-time career, or participate in a troupe part-time for fun, the opportunity is available.
The majority of troupe members work "part-time with other projects on the side, according to Becker, managing director of ImprovBoston and Girls' Night Out cast member.
About one-sixth of the group pursues performing arts outside of theater, the rest have day jobs."
Although BC has a long track record of creating successful comedians, the task of breaking into the world of comedy can seem daunting, if not impossible, to a college student.
ImprovBoston offers several ways to get a foot in the door. Becker recommends that students apply for the Matt Carey Scholarship Fund, a new scholarship offered by ImprovBoston that translates into a full workshop program valued around $1,000.
She also encourages students to participate in the annual Beanpot Tourney, where improv groups from local universities compete for the title of funniest troupe.
Smith joined ImprovBoston during his last year at BC, proving that, in addition to taking classes and winning scholarships or contests, students can participate in actual shows.
The success stories of Smith, Proulx, Smarz, and the other BC alumni winning over audiences at ImprovBoston serve as a reminder to students not to limit their options.
If you are funny, be funny. Better yet, be funny and get paid for it.
To learn more about shows, events, and classes at ImprovBoston, visit www.improvboston.com. The Improvisation Center of Boston is located at 1253 Cambridge St. in Cambridge.