Every Saturday night, right around 7:30, a crowd starts forming outside of Herter Rm. 231.  Occasionally there are a few parents sprinkled in, but for the most part the group is made up of a wide variety of UMass students milling about, waiting for something.

 

In the inconspicuous, fluorescently lit hallway of Herter, there is not much to indicate why there’s almost fifty people gathered in an academic building on a weekend evening.  That is of course, until the doors open.  Then there is loud music blasting from the lecture hall as students file in, rushing to find a row of seats long enough to fit all of their friends. 

 

Soon enough, that crowd of fifty has tripled and students find themselves sitting between rows, and sliding into the small spaces between seats and wall.  In the back, those students who didn’t get there early enough stand tightly packed in the back. 

 

What are they here for? Mission: IMPROVable

 

As their Facebook page says, “Mission: IMPROVable is UMass' premiere short form improv comedy troupe! We perform every Saturday night at 8PM in Herter 231 FOR FREE!!! We are family friendly, so bring your friends, bring your parents, bring your grandmas. Bring EVERYONE! FREE LAUGHS. FREE SHOW. FREE.”  Founded in 1991, it’s been cracking students up ever since.

 

Free; music to our broke college student ears, right? And the show itself, hilarious! Each week they play different improve games and rely on suggestions from the audience ensuring that no two shows are ever the same. 

 

For those of you who don’t know, short form improv is a series of unrelated scenes in which the actors make up their lines as they go along.  This is different from long form where scenes are based on more established characters and narrative. 

 

Between each game, the Mission: IMPROVable cast member playing DJ that night blasts music once again through the room and the entire audience claps and sings along as the cast has their impromptu dance party on stage.  Believe me, the energy is catching. 

 

Since I stumbled upon their show one weekend freshmen year, I’ve been going ever since. 

 

Every friend I’ve had visiting me at UMass I’ve brought to a show.  And every friend I’ve brought to a show has loved it too.  Be sure to check it out!

 

AND, if you’re interested in more free shows (again, free!) Student Valley Productions, the umbrella organization for UMass’s premier comedy troupes, has two more groups.

 

Sketch 22 performs up to four times a semester in a high-paced, high-tech, hour-length show entirely self-produced for free.  According to their page, “Much in the same vein as SNL, Sketch 22 performs a collection of short comedic vignettes written by its members at each performance.”  Their Youtube channel is regularly updated to keep fans entertained between shows.

 

Toast! Performs long form comedy every Friday night at 8 in Herter Rm. 231.  Taking a suggestion to start the show, Toast! changes things up every week.  And, if you haven’t caught on to the pattern by now, they’re free too!

 

With midterms in full swing and finals right around the corner, one of the best ways to take some time to distress is to laugh.  Trust me, even Mayo Clinic says it’s true!

 

Improv shows at UMass are free, good for your health, good for you grades, legitimately funny … convinced yet?

 

See you Saturday!

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