Q&A: On The Spot Improv discusses teamwork, protesting against themselves

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Members of On The Spot Improv discussed coming together as a team both on and off the stage in the latest Q&A with the editors of the Collegian.

Kaylie McLaughlin, assistant news editor: “How did each of you decide to audition for On The Spot Improv?”

Jordan Strickler, senior in medical biochemistry: “In high school, I did improvised duet acting as part of forensics with one of my really good friends named Jasmine; she was two years older than me. She came to K-State, found On The Spot, told me about it. … They came and performed while I was still in high school for this children’s camp thing that I helped work, a theater camp, and I was like, ‘That’s so cool,’ and I auditioned and got it.”

Nate Kochuyt, sophomore in statistics: “I auditioned for On The Spot because a friend of mine in my acting class, my freshman year, first semester, was like, ‘Hey, you, have you heard about this improv troupe?’ And I was like, ‘No, I have not.’ And they were like, ‘Hey, I think that you’d be really good at it, you should audition.’ And then I auditioned and I made it on the troupe. He didn’t, but I did, and that was awkward.”

Ben Trickey, junior in English: “Jack [Dotterweich] and I went to high school together. We started the improv troupe at our high school, and then when we came here, Jack was like, ‘There’s an improv team here. I saw them at Wildcat Warm-up. We should both audition.’ And we did. We were both lucky enough to get on together, so it was less awkward than Nate’s experience.”

Strickler: “I remember talking to him about it, too, at Wildcat Warm-Up; he was so excited.”

Jack Dotterweich, junior in secondary education: “I was so happy back then.”

Trickey: “Jack is one of the most nostalgic people you’ll ever meet.”

Brett Broadbent, sophomore in theatre: “I was part of a community theater’s improv troupe in Topeka, where I’m from, and when I came here, I was a part of the marching band — I still am a part of the marching band, but I’m in the same section as Ben. I knew there was an improv team, and I was thinking about it. But then, I talked to Ben, and Ben was like, ‘Hey, you should audition,’ and so he kind of drug me to come see shows. Then I was like, ‘Yeah, I like these people,’ so I joined. Well, I auditioned.”

McLaughlin: “What is your favorite part?”

Strickler: “I mean, obviously performing is so fun, and it’s opened up so many experiences for me. But I feel like the people on this troupe get me more than other people do. Like, I can joke around more with this group than I can with like normal people — ‘normies.’ We’re all on the same page, I feel like, because we are all kind of on the same level of crazy and in the same headspace a lot of the time.”

Trickey: “We trust each other.”

Strickler: “We’re a real close group.”

Broadbent: “You have to trust the people that you’re working with, and we all trust each other a lot. We’ll just text each other, ‘Hey, let’s do this random thing.’ So we spend a lot of time outside of actually doing improv together. We’ll just go out to the park and play baseball.”

Trickey: “That was so fun.”

Broadbent: “We’re not good at it by any means, but we’ll still go play. Or we’ll just go get dinner and go to movies and stuff. I think that’s my favorite part, just the outside-of-improv time.”

Trickey: “My favorite part might be how quickly you have to grow close to the group because you’re performing every week. As soon as you’ve been thrown into the show, you have to immediately start trusting each other on stage because otherwise it is not a fun show. If you don’t like and trust the people around you as you’re performing, it’s not going to be fun for anyone — the audience or the people performing. Getting thrown into that immediately puts you in a position that you don’t always get. Usually you kind of wade into the water when you’re part of a new organization, but On The Spot makes you dive in. Then, by the end of the year, you’re close with everyone on the team, and it’s really fun that way.”

Dotterweich: “Having a good show and making people laugh is probably one of the most fun things you can do. When you know the crowd is on your side and you’re making them laugh, like everything you do, you know what’s coming next. It’s fun to do that.”

Kochuyt: “My favorite part has got to be the people in On The Spot. It’s really cliche, but the people are just so great. There’s not a single person on the troupe that I wouldn’t really want to spend quality time with. Everybody on the troupe is somebody I would want to go get Sonic with or go get coffee with.”

Trickey: “Or get 48 mozzarella sticks with.”

McLaughlin: “Did that happen yesterday? With the 99-cent mozzarella sticks at Sonic?”

Trickey: “That happened yesterday. It was an accident.”

Kochuyt: “It was only 12 bucks.”

Trickey: “So this was my roommate. I was like, that can’t be right, $12 for only 12 mozzarella sticks? Turns out they are in orders of four, so we ended up with 48, but we all ate them.”

Broadbent: “Another one of my favorite things is that we do these things called Top Hats, and so we basically just go around campus and do weird things. Once, we went to the Quad, and we played croquet. We pretended like we were British, and everyone was just very confused.

“Once, we protested [against] ourselves at the Union with signs and everyone was like, ‘Improv’s really cool. I like On The Spot.’ And we were like, ‘Yeah, it’s a joke.’ Most of the time, no one will understand it except for us, but we think it is so funny.”

McLaughlin: “What all do you guys do besides protesting against yourselves?”

Kochuyt: “Improv.”

Strickler: “We write sketch comedy. We just had our sketch show. We do those Top Hat things. We do a lot of production and video editing because we make our own promotional videos.”

Kochuyt: “We go to other schools’ improv festivals.”

Broadbent: “We are hosting our own this year.”

Strickler: “It’s a week from today. … What’s fun, too, is when other organizations will contact us, and sometimes it’s paid. But depending on the organization, we’ll do it for free, like for Relay For Life. We’ve done that nearly every year, I think. … We’ve done a couple department Christmas parties.”

Broadbent: “They’re awkward.”

Trickey: “They’re so fun though.”

Kochuyt: “I think what’s interesting about On The Spot is that we’re all such a diverse group of people, too. We have theater majors. We have people who are going into journalism, people who are going to be doctors, like Jordan. … We have people who are teachers, and then like me, I’m a statistics major. It’s weird.”

McLaughlin: “What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever done together not on stage?”

Broadbent: “We just went to the Nick Jonas concert last night.”

Strickler: “And we watched ‘Camp Rock’ right after.”

Broadbent: “We were hired by this school in Georgia. They thought we were Kennesaw State University, and we thought they were from a town in Kansas.”

Trickey: “Marietta, Kansas.”

Broadbent: “So it was the night before, and I was like, ‘I just want to check one more time.’ I looked it up and texted the group, and I was like, ‘Guys, this school we’re supposed to go to is in Georgia, and it’s 12 hours away.’ We had to email them the day of and be like, ‘Sorry, we can’t go.’”

Dotterweich: “They had an assembly ready at their school.”

Broadbent: “They had a whole school assembly for us.”

Trickey: “It’s only 50 percent our fault, though.”

Strickler: “We associate Christmas with dips.”

Trickey: “Oh yeah, Dips-mas.”

Kochuyt: “We have several different dips.”

Broadbent: “Everyone brings their favorite dip. The only food that you can bring is a dip and something to dip it with.”

McLaughlin: “How does improv translate to what you plan to do with your lives?”

Dotterweich: “As a teacher, improv sort of forces you to think on your feet and sort of consider a lot of options really quickly. For me, when I go, I’ve had classes where I’ve had to teach certain materials, not because I’ve procrastinated, but that’s how I plan for things. I’ll just sort of have a general outline, and I’ll sort of make it up as I go a long. Usually it ends up okay. … It can also help with Jordan applying for med school. Interviews, being able to think on your feet and getting caught off guard. Having improv as a resource that you can use would definitely help you in any situation when you really have to think on the spot.”

McLaughlin: “What should people looking to audition for On The Spot Improv know before getting started?”

Dotterweich: “Don’t try and be funny. If you try and be funny, you’re not going to be funny. You should try, in improv, to form meaningful relationships within the context of the scene, and there is truth in comedy. If you follow truthfully what you would do in situations, that will end up being funnier than if you try to tell a joke or do some reference from a show you think is cool.”

Trickey: “It’s a lot about listening to each other on stage and responding in real time, and if you do it honestly, then that’s where the comedy comes from. You’ll say funny things just because we are all funny people in one way or another.”

Strickler: “As opposed to … coming into a scene with your own idea of, ‘This is going to happen,’ and ‘I am going to assert my plot and put it in the scene.’”

Trickey: “That never works. It’s definitely not funny, that’s for sure.”

Strickler: “It’s not teamwork. it’s just you up there trying to make someone do what you want them to do.”

McLaughlin: “What has being a part of On The Spot taught you?”

Dotterweich: “You can’t do it alone; you need to rely on others in order to succeed.”

Trickey: “I think being honest and open with people is something that can be really hard, especially at first when you’re meeting people, but over time that becomes the best way to communicate. You can be open and honest about what you’re feeling, what you’re thinking. You can solve problems more quickly; you can be on the same page and trust each other. … Every time we go on stage before a show, we say, ‘I’ve got your back,’ and we pat each other on the back and stuff because you’re going out there. We are literally making up the whole show. We are pulling this show out of our butts every time we go on stage, so we have to be trusting each other and knowing that we are going to support each other no matter what.”

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Kaylie Mclaughlin
My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm the Editor in Chief of the Collegian. I grew up just outside of Kansas City in Shawnee, Kansas. I’m a junior in digital journalism with a minor in French and a secondary focus in international and area studies. As a third generation K-Stater, I bleed purple and my goal is to serve the Wildcat community with accurate coverage. I am fueled by a lot of coffee and I spend my (sparse) free time watching stand-up comedy.