On The Spot: improvisational troupe strives to entertain

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K-State On The Spot Improv Club members inform the audience of the next performance of "Television Series" at Forum Hall on Sept. 29, 2015. (File Photo by Cassandra Nguyen | The Collegian)

Where can you watch Donald Trump being bludgeoned with a bar of soap? At an On the Spot Improv show, of course.

Its members act out a variety of situations, based on a few suggestions from the audience. The performers then have to come up with scenes on the spot.

“The best part of the show is when you get to make people laugh,” Ryan Woods, senior in graphic design and On the Spot member, said.

The group unofficially formed in 2009, after a group of students began doing improv for fun in the basement of K-State residence halls. Ben Hopper, current adviser for On the Spot and former adviser for the Union Program Council, saw the same group perform at Wildcat Warmup.

“I approached them,” Hopper said. “They said they needed an adviser to get started and needed me to go do it. The first rule of improv is to say yes, so I did.”

That helping hand led to the group becoming an official K-State club and its members have been entertaining audiences since.

On the Spot utilizes both long- and short-form improv. Long-form requires the performers to act out a 20 minute-plus “play,” based on a word suggested by the audience.

Short-form takes the appearance of a variety of games, such as one called “rapid gibberish detective,” in which two performers can only babble to one another. One has to act out a scene suggested by the audience and it is the other performer’s job to determine what the former is doing.

Of course, with only babbling, the physical gestures and actions of the former become crucial, if the latter has any hope of figuring it out.

In order to become a member for “On the Spot,” a student must first pass through an initial audition process. This year’s auditions included 41 improv tryouts in which those auditioning had to demonstrate the ability to keep a scene going with partners. Of these 41, only 15 were invited to callbacks where they were further whittled down until only six new members were left to add to the current cast of 11.

The cast performs in the Union’s Forum Hall every Tuesday at 8 p.m. Hopper said it’s a great free event that’s worth going to each week.

“It’s a fun hour of entertainment,” Hopper said. “It’s free and they’re good. They practice once or twice a week and perform once a week to hone their craft. You’re gonna get to see quality entertainment every week.”

Members of K-State’s On the Spot have already qualified twice to attend the National College Improv Tournament, after previously beating out other teams in regional tournaments. Michael Lee, senior in animal sciences and industry and On the Spot member, said, however, that the group is not just for competitions, but to make people happy.

“We’re just a bunch of goofy kids trying to make you smile if you’re having a tough week,” Lee said.

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