Let hilarity ensue: Amuse Bouche provides top improv

From a capella concerts to sculpture showcases, the University’s artistic offerings seem to know no bounds. That said, if you’re looking to have a good laugh, your options are limited; the Wahoos do not, as of yet, play host to the heaping handful of comedy troupes you might expect from a university that seems to sprout a new singing group — or five — every fall. But although our few stalwart comedians may be lacking in quantity, they more than make up for it with their grade-A quality.

Among these hilarious troupes, Amuse Bouche has emerged as one of the most accomplished. Founded in 2007 and currently comprised of 10 talented members, Bouche performs a variety of well-attended shows that employ a particular comedic style known as ‘long-form’ improv.

“When people think of improv they often think of Whose Line Is It Anyway or similar shows where quick improv games are played with a gimmick,” said Kevin McVey, Amuse Bouche’s president and third-year Engineering student. “But that’s not what we do … You give us just one word and we will make up an entire play for you on the spot without any rules or guidance for the next 20 to 30 minutes that’s bound to keep you laughing the whole way through.”

This distinctive form of comedy offers terrific opportunities for big laughs, but it also poses its own set of challenges for the performers.

“There’s a lot that goes into a performance and it becomes a fun struggle to try to keep all the trains of thought together,” said Ida Knox, a third-year College student and veteran member of the troupe.

This inventive comedic style immerses the audience in the action and brings the performers together, said Emma Volpe, another third-year College student in the organization.

“I feel like we’re siblings who pick on each other to get a rise out of one another, but at the end of the day we’re always there for the group,” Volpe said.

This sort of bonding also occurs on the troupe’s periodic excursions and road trips, which allow members to explore various comic theories and to learn from acclaimed groups throughout the country. Annually, the group travels to New York and to North Carolina, often taking the opportunity to catch up with Amuse Bouche alumni, Knox said.

Bouche’s commitment to comedy comes through most clearly, of course, in the group’s shows, which tackle a variety of zany topics and themes.

“We use the theme [of the show] to prompt the audience to share a story with us that we then use as inspirational material [for our performance,]” Volpe said. “For example, we had a show called ‘First Date,’ where we had people come up and share funny date stories with us.”

In addition to fostering interaction and enthusiasm on the part of the audience, this technique has proven endlessly entertaining for the troupe’s own members.

“My mom got up on stage and talked about her first date with a cult member,” Knox said.

For current students who crave this sort of lively comedic environment, Amuse Bouche holds highly competitive — but reportedly hilarious — auditions each semester to bring new talent into the group’s ranks.

“We look for people who are comfortable to do a scene with our group, take direction well and, most importantly, we want people who make us laugh,” Volpe said. “We love when people take risks and show us that they’re ready to have anything thrown at them.”

Fortunately for those lucky few members who join the roster each semester, adjusting to the groove of the group has proven exciting and fulfilling for the current members.

“There’s a ‘first show’ nervousness for new members, but as soon as you’ve passed that you get addicted to the laughter,” Knox said.

Whether you’re planning to audition or merely to enjoy the group’s comedic stylings from the sidelines, you are guaranteed to get more than your money’s worth from the troupe’s performances, the first of which this semester is currently scheduled for Feb. 8.

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