NYU’s Improv Teams Search for New Performers

Jenny Levine, Contributing Writer

If you’re an aspiring comedian itching to get your start in the city, you’ll want to check out the various improv, sketch, standup and satire groups around campus. NYU boasts 13 unique comedy groups that are holding auditions for new performers throughout September, giving students the chance to grace the stage where comedians like Donald Glover once stood.

Anyone interested in joining is encouraged to try out for multiple teams because the groups are looking for people of all experience levels and backgrounds. Gallatin junior Mallory Horncastle never attempted improv before deciding to audition for Bechdel Test at the end of her
freshman year.

“What drew me to want to audition is it’s such a free, open space. It’s good for someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience or someone that will teach and grow with the group,” Horncastle said of her time with Bechdel Test. “It’s a cool community for girls because it’s a smaller group of people, and there’s a lot of freedom in what we try.”

Auditions can be nerve-wracking, as Horncastle puts it, but as long as you stay true to the reality of the scene and listen to what your improv partner is saying, you will find success.

CAS sophomore Lars Montanaro, the president of improv group Pasadena Golf Club, said he’s searching for people who can be trusted on stage.

“I’ll be looking for people who make everyone else look good as well as making themselves look good on stage — it’s a team thing,” Montanaro said.

Pasadena Golf Club’s auditions are Sept. 15 and 16, but before the first round of auditions, Montanaro usually gives people some basic improv advice which those new to the craft should heed.

“I have four general rules that I will tell people auditioning: the ‘yes and rule,’ take what people say as fact and add to it. The second rule is speak up so we can understand you. The third is listen to your fellow improvisers, and, finally, don’t ask vacuous questions — always bring something new to the stage,” Montanaro said.

Many troupes understand that it is intimidating to jump right into something that may be new for some and so often provide enough rehearsals and even extra spaces for practice to make the most faint of heart comfortable in the group.

Leanne Velednitsky, a senior at Tisch and member of After School Improv, suggests that students attend the weekly meetings and monthly improv jams to familiarize themselves with improv.

“As we take on new members we know that there is a curve of practicing so often, and practicing specifically with us, but we are always willing and excited to teach people about the craft!” Velednitsky said. “The NYC Student Improv Jams are also a great place for everyone to get their improv shoes shined.”

NYU provides a comfortable environment for comedians looking to experiment in different forms. With the comedy community being as tight knit as it is, there are ample opportunities for those looking to explore a career or just a passion within the 13 teams.

“Improv is so much about the community of players,” Velednitsky said. “Besides just the technique of improv your team bond is a great college environment.”

Look at the “NYU Comedy Auditions” Facebook page for audition dates, times and locations.

A version of this article appeared in the Sept. 12 print edition. Email Jenny Levine at [email protected]