Improv group helps students de-stress during exams

By Rachel Huck | 12/9/15 8:58pm

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GVL / Courtesy - Subject to Change


“What’s the most awkward situation you’ve ever experienced?”

Intrusive, awkward questions are what fuel a lot of comedy shows and are a frequent source of inspiration for Grand Valley State University’s improvisation comedy group, Subject to Change.

The student organization hosted their first official comedy show of the school year on Friday. Called "More and Merrier," the event showcased performing improvisational skits based on audience members’ answers to questions like these.

“We want to make a change on campus and in our community through laughter and performance,” said Chelsea Leask, event coordinator of the organization. “I believe that laughter really is the best medicine.”

The group began with the belief that GVSU was in dire need of more student entertainment and has since spent the last three years trying to provide students with comic relief.

“Entertainment for entertainment’s sake is something desperately needed at GVSU,” said Lewis Stone, co-founder of the group. “Sometimes we just want to forget about life for a while. Comedy lets us do so.”

More and Merrier featured improv games such as “Whose Line is it Anyway,” from the television show of the same name, and “The Press Conference Game.”

The organization is constantly at work to evolve their group and provide valuable entertainment on campus.

“When (we) applied to be an official organization, we needed to write something as a placeholder on the forms,” Stone said. “I said, ‘just write Subject To Change.’ At that moment, I think we knew that placeholder would be here to stay.”

More and Merrier had a turnout of about 50 attendees and was free to attend.

“We just want to bring happiness everywhere we go,” said Liam Kelley, who joined Subject to Change last year.

Subject to Change is holding events around exam time for students to blow off some steam amidst the stress. The group aims to be an outlet for students to escape from academics and relax for a few hours.

“We are fundamentally focused on the opposite of stress,” said Brianna Girard, president of Subject to Change. “We want to exist to be an outlet for students to sit back and laugh and enjoy some comedy with their friends.”

The student-run group held auditions earlier this semester to get more students involved and to expand the group's reach on campus.

“This organization has grown and changed beyond imagination,” said David Van Alstyne, vice president of the group. “We have now grown to a troupe of 12 and a dedicated fan base of over 200 people.”

In addition to on-campus performances, Subject to Change has also performed at Laughfest and in Traverse City, Michigan.

“We are constantly testing new games and show ideas in our practices to make sure our performances are continually evolving for our audiences,” Van Alstyne said.

The group also hosts seminars and improv jams on campus for anyone to come practice their improv skills.

“When students come to our show, I hope they walk away feeling a bit happier, less stressed and inspired to make a positive impact on the people in their lives,” Leask said. “A laugh can go a long way, and everyone should understand the power of laughter.”

Subject to Change will host another show on Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. in the Cook-DeWitt Center.

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