With dimmed lights and unbridled Thursday night enthusiasm, an intimate audience of dedicated 5C comedy fans gathered for an evening of laughter.
On Sept. 14, improv troupe Underground Theatrical Institute (UTI) performed their first show of the semester, “First Day of Kindergarten,” at Dom’s Lounge. The show consisted of several games in which the actors invited the audience to give verbal recommendations for locations, people, animals, objects and relationships to base their skits around.
In their first act, “Press Conference,” member Eliza Levy PZ ’26 exited the stage and the troupe asked the crowd to propose a person, an event and the location of the incident. The audience suggested “Oppenheimer had an affair in Dom’s Lounge.”
Levy then rejoined the scene and fellow actors began posing questions to help them correctly guess their role. Actors cleverly used puns involving the words “bomb” and “explosion” to prompt Levy to guess their character. They also incorporated more direct questions about the nature of the incident and location while relying on Levy to add their own comedic charm to the bit.
UTI member Lily Wellington PZ ’24 spoke on the importance of audience participation in cultivating an inviting atmosphere.
“The best thing about the audience is that they really want to support you and laugh and they want to be in the moment with you,” Wellington said.
“I think it’s…beautiful to be able to provide content or comedy for 5C students. It’s exciting to be able to let people laugh.”
Playing on a combination of both popular and 5C culture, the group especially struck a chord with the crowd through their rendition of “Scripps Presents.” In this game, three members took the stage and assumed the roles of host, speaker and translator. The translator, relying solely on the gestures, hums and expressive facial movements of the speaker, would deliver a comedic narrative.
The topic in question? Dating within the friend group. With lines like “one of the best things a friend can do is get you off,” the audience’s laughter seemed endless.
Wellington spoke on the team’s ability to execute without foreknowledge of the skit’s direction or, in this case, verbal communication between actors.
“You have to build a chemistry with each other so that when you get on stage, you’re subtly communicating with your scene partner, and the audience doesn’t see that communication, but they see the final product,” Wellington said.
After the performance, the actors thanked the audience for attending and mingled with participants in the crowd. Team members also chatted amongst themselves and celebrated the success of their first show.
Charlotte Imbert PO ’25 discussed how improv fosters a sense of community at the 5Cs, both within and beyond the troupe.
“[Improv] is a really big way for us to meet people at other colleges,” Imbert said. “You always feel like you’re learning more about each other and being vulnerable with each other and that enables you to build that sense of connection with people that you wouldn’t [have] in a classroom.”
Tierney O’Keefe SC ’25 elaborated further on the team’s ability to nurture community during their shows, creating a space for entertainment and camaraderie among peers.
“I think it’s also beautiful to be able to provide content or comedy for 5C students,” O’Keefe added. “It’s exciting to be able to let people laugh.”
UTI plans on holding several more shows over the course of the semester and even holding open practices for students who want to try out improv for the first time or gain more experience. You can keep up to date with UTI’s efforts on their Instagram account @uti_rofl.