The art of improv has been ingrained in Claremont College culture for decades. As the new school year picks up, 7C improv shows are popping up left and right.
On the night of Sept. 7 at Pomona’s Rosehill Theater, improv troupe Without a Box (WAB) performed their show, “WAB Rush,” to a full house. According to Claremont legend, WAB is the longest-running improv group among the 7Cs and this was their first of many shows planned for this upcoming school year.
With a Greek-life-inspired set of improv games, the troupe poked fun at the lack of sororities or fraternities at the 7Cs.
In the show, WAB first brings its audience into a make-believe rendition of Pomona College, dubbed “Napoma College,” where rush culture is prevalent and troupe members assume playful caricatures of frat bros and sorority sisters. WAB treasurer Jeffrey Pendo PO ’24 described the troupe’s influences.
“Honestly, [the inspiration] was a combination of Bama Rush-tok [popular TikTok trend following the University of Alabama’s rush process] and also the song ‘Rush’ by Troye Sivan,” Pendo said.
A multitude of improv games were played throughout the show, all involving audience participation.
A game titled “Hazing Investigation” was a crowd-favorite. The audience chose a “hazing crime” that the troupe members were accused of (as they continued playing the role of fraternity members), and the actors tried to guess their crime through context clues.
At one point, an audience member was even brought up on stage to give the troupe movie plots and characters to create a skit out of. WAB President Emily Stoutjesdyk PO ’25 described the importance of audience interaction during their show.
“We love getting our audience involved. We want it to feel very personal and like [the audience is] involved and get to laugh with us,” Emily Stoutjesdyk PO ‘25 WAB president said. “We got booed when we were frat bros, and I heckled the people back. It’s fun.”
“We love getting our audience involved,” Stoutjesdyk said. “We want it to feel very personal and like [the audience is] involved and get to laugh with us.”
The show felt its liveliest when audience participation was at its highest. According to Stoutjesdyk and Pendo, audience reactions are key to building a great improv show. They help the troupe members bounce off of each other, create new jokes and find ways to make the content relatable.
“Honestly, we want people to heckle us,” Pendo said. “We want people to ‘boo’ during some games.”
Stoutjesdyk recalled a memorable moment after the show was over.
“We got booed when we were the frat bros and I heckled the people back,” Stoutjesdyk said. “It’s fun.”
The show hit its climax when the troupe played a game called “Sorority Rush.” During the game, the audience gave three chosen members characters to act out, each trying to ‘rush’ into a sorority/fraternity house. The audience decided upon a Bama Rush-inspired sorority candidate, a religious student (or what Pendo calls a ‘quasi-nun’) and a 12-year-old who started college early with their imaginary friend.
WAB plans on having their next shows on Oct. 6 and 7 at the California Botanic Gardens with a family-friendly, native-plant-themed set for “Things That Go Bump in the Night,” a Halloween-inspired event involving nocturnal wildlife and interactive activities. This event will take place from 5:30 – 9 p.m. and WAB will be performing at 8 p.m. on both days.