Arts & Culture Editor
Improv Molotov began ten years ago and since has grown into an increasingly popular Millersville entertainment group. It gives joy and laughs to its’ audiences looking for an escape from the busy stresses of the semester. It is as much of an escape for the Improv group members themselves, as it creates a sense of family and community. This sense of community is one that brings audience members back to this comedic force on this campus.
Every member has a different story of how they joined the troupe. Some performers like senior Mikey Felder got recruited during a class, while others like Josie Seviche always loved improv and saw shows and wanted to audition. Sophomore Kaitlyn Pekarik went to every single show in her first semester, and during the second semester, one of her friends auditioned and got in. All throughout the summer and the rest of the semester, and after much encouragement to audition, she tried some improv workshops and auditioned and got in. No matter how each member found their way into the group, it is their love for their craft and each other that brings them together.
The group bonds through spending time together and having “exposure” to one another as Felder says. According to Seviche, “We are all very different, and we all bring very different perspective and personality traits to the troupe.” The performers also have different majors which invites “large amounts of knowledge in very different things.” Yet, putting differences aside, Seviche says that “I genuinely enjoy the company of these people.” The members of the group besides having strong chemistry and a sense of family, also have a great appreciation for the art of improv. Emily Kase, when performing, just lets her brain do whatever thinks is gonna be the best. Although very fast paced, she feels that in improv, “There is no pressure to be a certain character and no pressure to memorize lines.” Kase feels comfort in that “there is not that expectation needing to be a certain person or type of character, you can really do what fits that scene or fits that game.”
The members, even though they do embrace the freeing aspect of improv, also each have their share of comedic influences and inspirations. While some members have comedic influences such as Kate Mckinnon, Tina Fey, John Mulaney and even Bo Burnham, seeing other comedians excel in their craft helps the performers get stronger in their own. Felder even says that for him, Sarah Silverman in comedy teaches him that “It is not what you say but how you say it I feel a lot of things can be funny if the context is perfect.” The members also learn very much from each other. One lesson that improv member, Ben Vlam has learned is that in improv, if you want to be successful, “You just have to shut everything else out.” You have to be present and in the moment with those performers. One thing that helps the cast stay present is in their bond as a team. According to Pekarik, “There isn’t one person there that doesn’t want to motivate you to be better.” Having that support does a great deal for comedy and performing.
After doing Improv for a bit, it is important to stay on top of your feet. This can happen with new members who bring new voices and new styles into the show. Vlam says that in keeping Improv fresh, “It is always important to play new games at shows.” It is at rehearsals where these games are tried out. According to Pekarik, “We don’t do anything in rehearsals that is the same as the show we will practice the games that we are gonna do for the show, but every topic, every scene, every suggestion is different.” This adds an element of spontaneity to the shows that extends even more once the audience comes in. Improv is a spur of the moment art and drives off it’s unpredictability and excitement. Yet it is a craft that must be practiced and honed just like any other muscle or sport.
The group also does much in promoting their shows. They do chalking outside to advertise their show and even go up to people and try to encourage people to come. Going up to others and advertising also speaks to the intimate nature of their shows that thrive off of audience participation and engagement. The group hopes that they can provide an escape for audiences and that they can leave their problems at the door. They hope that the beloved comedy troupe will grow over the years and that audiences and wonderful talent will keep coming to the shows and keeping the art of improv alive and well at Millersville.