Battle of the wits

Cool Whip competes with students in improvisation class for upcoming show

Most people do not enjoy getting up in front of an audience and performing. However, senior Kyle Bohigian does so quite often, and he makes it up as he goes.

“It’s like you’re making up a play on the spot,” Bohigian said. “It’s really exciting and scary at the same time. You just have to trust your teammates that it will all go well.”

Bohigian is the leader of Cool Whip, Whitworth’s student improvisation group. They regularly host improv shows throughout the year, and their last one of the semester is Dec. 9 with the On the Spot Players.

The On the Spot Players are a group of students who have been taking improv classes during the semester. The two teams will compete in a variety of improv skits to see which one can win the approval of the audience.

Senior Preston Loomer, a member of Cool Whip for three years, said improvisation is very similar to acting.

“The only difference between us and other forms of acting is that we don’t have anything planned. We have to guess characters that our other members are acting out, and do certain scenes in a certain amount of time,” Loomer said. “You just go up there and let what happens happen.”

Cool Whip spends a lot of time working on their improv, as well as spending time together as a team to create trust and friendship among the members, Bohigian said. He and adjunct professor of theatre Kevin Benson — who is also the unofficial adviser of Cool Whip — implemented a new idea this year: to have the members of Cool Whip spend time together outside of rehearsal more often.

“We perform together at rehearsals and shows, but this extra time together is a bigger influence on getting to know each other,” Bohigian said.

Loomer said improv can be a difficult thing to pull off successfully, and it all depends on how well the members can get on the same page with each other.

“The absolute hardest part, in my experience, is that you really have to trust each other on stage and lean on each other,” Loomer said.

Benson has been teaching the improvisational class for about seven years off and on. All students interested in joining Cool Whip must take the class.

“Mostly improv is about trying to think quickly on your feet. I try to put the students in situations where they have to trust the people that they are with,” Benson said. “I want to teach them to trust each other, to take big risks and do crazy things. Since you are with this group of people that you can trust, some pretty cool and amazing things can happen.”

The On the Spot Players put on the show as a part of their improv class final, and they come up with many of the scene ideas for the competition. Benson said their ideas for this year are divided up into different structures, with categories such as guessing games and storytelling.

“My favorite game is one where they have to make up a scene, and then keep doing [all of] the scene, but with a time limit,” Benson said. “It’s fun to watch them try to get everything in when the time is short.”

Loomer said Cool Whip will help to keep the pressure off the less experienced team, while still letting them showcase what they’ve learned from their class.

“I like watching the class and seeing what they come up with,” Loomer said. “It’s just a fun way to invite more people into [Cool Whip]. Hopefully next year some of them will be joining us.”

Bohigian said improvisational acting can teach important things for later on in life.

“I’m a strong advocate in encouraging anyone to take an improv class,” Bohigian said. “You learn to be more accepting of people, and that’s a good attitude to have.”

Cool Whip bumped up the admission price to the show this year by one dollar. Bohigian said they want to earn enough money that will help them improve.

“We raised our rates to go primarily to Seattle, to a large workshop there,” he said. “We want to get better, enough so that we can compete in collegiate competitions.”

Benson said the audience plays a large part in the performances during the show, especially for the show coming up in a couple of weeks.

“Almost every game there is interactive,” he said. “It’s a pretty fun show, and the audience is going to have a great time because it’s going to be really fast-paced and really funny.”

Benson also said that it will be up to the audience to decide who will ultimately win the competition.

“The audience has to show up,” he said. “If they want the On The Spot Players to win, they have to cheer for them, and if they want Cool Whip to win, they have to cheer for them.”

The show will be in Cowles Auditorium Stage II at 9 p.m.

Meghan Dellinger Staff Writer

Contact Meghan Dellinger at mdellinger15@my.whitworth.edu.