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Full Frontal Comedy builds community through improv



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Full Frontal Comedy performs on Fridays in the Indiana Memorial Union. Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

Many people probably wouldn’t think about getting up on stage to perform in front of a large crowd, let alone in a show where they don’t even know what they are going to say before they start.

For members of Full Frontal Comedy, this feeling is all too familiar.

Founded in 1994, IU’s longest running comedy group on campus, Full Frontal Comedy, specializes in sketch, improv and musical improv comedy. There are 10 troupe members: eight are undergraduates, one is a law student and one is a master’s Jacobs School of Music student, who plays improvised music throughout the show that corresponds with the acting.

Junior Josh Levy had done standup comedy in high school, but was new to improv when he first joined the group in the spring semester of his freshman year. This year, only one of the three new members had no experience with improv, but there is a wide array of experience that ranges among the members. Levy said the group doesn’t look for the funniest people in the auditions, but those who are the most coachable and can fit in with the culture of the troupe.

“The most difficult part of improv is usually just getting started and building that initial confidence on stage,” Levy said. “It can be really scary as a freshman on stage having to improvise a song, so building that initial confidence to commit to a scene or joke and trust that the group will back you up and support your bits no matter what takes some getting used to.”

Each show consists of a beginning sketch, followed by three or four short-form games. The short-form games are short scenes based on audience suggestions. The show continues with a long-form portion featuring a montage, a group of closely related scenes based off an audience suggestion or an improvised musical, where the group will ask for a fake name of a musical and perform it on the spot. 

Levy said sometimes the group will perform a nightmare, where the group will have an audience member describe their day and the troupe will act it out as a nightmare.

Practice takes place twice a week and is led by a different person each week based on seniority. The troupe will spend half an hour talking and joking in order to bond and set the tone for the practice. Then, the group begins warm-ups, short-form games and then anything else the person leading would like to practice for the show that weekend.

Levy said he likes how close-knit the troupe is.

“The troupe is like a family to many of us, and although we already spend a minimum of four hours together a week due to practice, we’re very often hanging out with each other throughout the week and on weekends,” Levy said. “It’s a great support system, and we all love each other very much.”

Freshman Riya Patel found out about the group randomly one Friday night. Her and her friends heard laughing coming outside the room, so they decided to go inside.

“I like their originality,” Patel said. “Coming up with things on the spot is crazy hard and to do it in front of a room full of people is even harder. I don’t know how they don’t run out of funny things to say.”

Full Frontal Comedy performs at 9 p.m. Fridays. Follow them on Instagram @fullfrontaliu for show updates.

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