There is only one place on campus where you can experience a rap battle, Nicolas Cage at a cash register, and a lovesick frying pan all at the same time–a Cool Whip improv show. On Friday, Oct. 30, Cool Whip performed their first show of the year on Stage II of Cowles Auditorium. Cool Whip usually performs one or two shows a month, depending on the troupe members’ schedules.
Ten members strong this year, the troupe is co-directed by juniors Nate Strain and Rebecca Seideman. Shows typically consist of a combination of improv games such as Return Desk, Les Jeux and Four Square, where the players come up with comical scenes and interact with each other and the audience on the spot.
Sophomore Alyson King joined Cool Whip last year after participating in her high school’s improv troupe for the last four years. Last year, King was the only freshman on the troupe after tryouts.
“[In tryouts] there’s a current member who judges your performances with a group of other people trying out,” King said. “You play a game like Freeze, and the judge decides if you make it based on how you play the game and interact with other people.”
In Freeze, two players start a scene and must quickly develop it using key basics of improv, such as character, relationship and location. Then, at some point in the scene, someone in the audience yells, “Freeze!” The person who yelled must take the place of one of the frozen characters, and begin an entirely new scene inspired by the replaced player’s final pose, King said.
Cool Whip practice consists of playing “games [the troupe] hasn’t played in a while,” learning new ones or doing workshops that focus on skills such as pantomiming, King said. Cool Whip members perform games they often practice, but due to the nature of improv and the creativity of the players, the results are different each time.
Besides just being entertaining, improv can also be beneficial and transformative for the players. In middle school, King was shy and had difficulty talking to people.
“As soon as I got into improv, it boosted my confidence, and now I’m able to be in front of people and hold conversations,” King said.
The audience was very involved in the show, offering suggestions as to what the troupe would be acting out. Some attendees had been to many shows, and some, like junior Tori Grace, were seeing Cool Whip perform for the first time.
“I really liked it,” Grace said. “My favorite part was [senior Seth Flanders] when he was trying to act out the Kim Kardashian story–that was hilarious.”
In the game Les Jeux, King told a story involving Timbuktu, Kim Kardashian and explosions. Afterwards, Flanders acted out the same story without using words. Finally, a third Cool Whip member attempted to re-tell the original story based on Flander’s humorous actions.
For the Cool Whip members, performing each show is a unique experience, with a new audience and new possibilities
“It’s a ton of fun,” said junior Nate Strain, Cool Whip co-director. “We just have a passion for [improv] that is infinite.”