Self-Improvement with Improv

Caitlin Feeney

Interested in theater? The Improv Club at Bucks meets every Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in The Gallagher room for any student interested in theater, but not rehearsing.

Bill McLaughlin, the improv professor at Bucks, explains that improv “is unrehearsed and impromptu theater, created through the process of communication, cooperation and collaboration.”

McLaughlin should know, as he is the founding member of The Chicago City Limits, New York’s longest-running improvisational group. He even studied with Chicago’s legendary Second City director, Del Close.

McLaughlin has played the roles of an actor, comedian, writer, director, and casting director for the past 25 years.

“In order to thrive in Improv you have to play to the height of your intelligence, face your fears, learn to work with others, and apply yourself with total commitment.” McLaughlin teaches both Improv I and Improv II at Bucks.

Students interested in becoming better actors can join. However, improv can help people in other aspects of their lives, not just theater. Students can also improve working with others in a fun, carefree environment.

Students learn to let go of any inhibitions and truly have fun at the Improv Club. They can be a different person for a little while, one that they naturally conjure up. It’s a great way to learn more about yourself and just what you are capable of.

Improv pushes students to reach their brain’s maximum potential. There are no props and no backdrops – everyone works with one another to create something that is usually hilarious. It isn’t all about smarts, though.

President of the Improv Club, Dave Piccinetti, says that he hears “a lot of people say they can’t do improv ‘cause they can’t think fast enough. They don’t realize that it’s not about thinking, but rather just being yourself and having fun.”

Piccinetti, 22 and a women’s studies major at Bucks, is a member of Deleted Scenes, the 2011 Mid Atlantic Regional Champions of the National College Improv Tournament. (Other members include Rob Gentile, Rob Caso, Bobby Lang, Kyle Reichert and Harrison Lichtner). They have even collaborated with Joel Hodgson, the creator of Mystery Science Theater 3000 to create movie riffs.

Deleted Scenes performs regularly in Philadelphia and New York. The Improv Club at Bucks sticks to Newtown, but the club is a gateway to different places to perform.

Beginners will start off with fun games to find their footing. As they learn the basics, they will move on to long-form improvisation otherwise known as making scenes.

Ultimately, members of the club can help out with BUCKS LIVE. This is a poorly named “Saturday Night Live” spin-off taking place at the campus towards the end of the year. Members can collaborate to write sketches, perform, improvise, and movie riff.

Any student interested can join, and there will be more information once Improv Club gets rolling in the semester. For more information, contact McLaughlin at [email protected].