Slow Clap improv club gears up for comedy jam

It may be hard for some people to find ways to relieve the stress that comes with being in the middle of a college semester. For others, all they need is a laugh which they can get with one simple ingredient: jam.

Point Park University’s premier improv squad, Slow Clap, will host an improv jam on March 20 from 6-7 p.m. in the JVH auditorium, no peanut butter required.

Daymon Long, a sophomore cinema production major, has been president of Slow Clap since the beginning of this semester.

“[Improv] is just one way to artistically express myself, it’s so much fun and it helps me get in a really good mood,” Long said in an interview in Lawrence Hall Thursday.

Improv is short for improvisational comedy, which is all about creating and reacting to new situations. An improv show involves actors getting into new situations along with the audience, which can also be very involved in the show.

“In improv, everything is off top… the thing to it is always accepting and going along with what your team is doing and focusing on right here and right now,” Long said, describing an improv show.

“It keeps me out of my comfort zone, but I end up really proud of what I did,” Maia Gilmour, a sophomore psychology major and future president of Slow Clap, said in an interview in Lawrence Hall Friday.

“The sense of love and community that comes with improv is so incredible, we create an atmosphere of play, which makes everyone feel at ease,” Jillian Bradshaw, sophomore acting major and treasurer of Slow Clap, said in an email interview.

The March 20th jam is the second on campus improv show Slow Clap has held this semester, the first being a show the group did at the Student Activities, Involvement and Leadership (SAIL) Showdown, which took place Jan. 27.

“I was really surprised at how well it went, we had everyone in the room laughing, which was a great feeling,” Gilmour said.

The jam will consist of several short-form improv games, and the dialogue and scenarios will all be made up on the spot. Anyone can attend, and anyone can be involved in the performance.

Slow Clap has been around for several years, but has been through a rise and fall in member participation and University activity since that time.

“It was down to around three people at one point,” said Long, who joined the club in his first semester at PPU in 2014.

As president of Slow Clap, Long said that he made it his goal to “build it back up” and make it a more involved student organization. He has done so by recruiting more members, and also using money from the group’s United Student Government (USG) budget to get a coach to teach the members the basics of improv, techniques and also other improv skills.

“The great thing about it is that we have new people coming in every week and we get them right into it from scratch,” Woody Drennan, the coach for Slow Clap, who also owns Unplanned Comedy, a comedy ‘school’ and performance venue in Lawrenceville, said in a phone interview Monday.

Drennan said that he has three rules that he uses to teach improv. Information gifted is never personal, information gifted is always in the realm of your knowledge and information gifted is never challenged. These rules just serve to reinforce the idea that improv is free-flowing, and any situation is attainable on the stage.

Long also said that he is trying to get as many improv shows scheduled as possible.

According to Long, Slow Clap now has about 12 members who consistently attend meetings. He encourages anyone who would like to try improv to attend a practice meeting, which happen every Sunday from 5-7 p.m. in the JVH auditorium.

“It’s a pretty great way to end your weekend and energize you for the upcoming week,” Bradshaw said.

“It’s definitely a bonding experience, I feel really close to [the members] and it really helps us work better as a team,” Sarah Cox, freshman theatre major and member of Slow Clap since Sept. last year, said in a phone interview Saturday.

Gilmour, Bradshaw and Cox each have a background in performing, which they each said helped them in improv, but Long said he had no prior experience before joining the group. Still, he feels that it is something everyone who is interested should try at least once, as the group will help them develop their skills.

“Please come try it once, we’d love to have you,” said Long, addressing potential improvisers.