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February 06, 2014 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-02-06

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the b


The Michigan Daily michigandaily.com fIThursday, February 6, 2014


Exploring the University's
improv comedy troupe


Eight students from varied aca-
demic disciplines meet in the Uni-
versity Activities Center room on
the fourth floor of the Michigan
Union to indulge in a common
passion for improvisational com-
edy. Starting their rehearsal with
a warm-up ritual, they form a cir-
cle and begin stomping their feet
on the ground and snapping their
fingers, creating a rhythmic beat
while dishing out improvised rap
to accompany it. The room swells
with a palpable energy, infecting
the performers and the audience,
appropriately prefacing the rest of
the rehearsal period. Eight seem-
ingly different individuals func-
tion as a single entity of laughter
and joy, creating a dynamic atmo-
sphere in which everyone in the
room thrives.
This is ComCo, advertised by
its members as the University's
"oldest and best improv comedy
troupe." Formed in 1979, the group
performs through an eclectic
range of mediums, such as improv,
sketch, song, dance and the occa-
sional short film. However, the
group's chief medium of craft is
improvisational comedy.
Business junior John Dennehy,
president of ComCo, explained,

"Improv comedy is the process of
creating something out of noth-
ing. We take in a little nugget of
information from the audience
and create sketches, scenes and
characters and use them as a base
for our performance."
At present, the group consists
of 10 members, nine of whom are
active on campus. Over the years,
ComCo has undergone significant
change from its original setup.
Dennehy explained that in
the late '90s, ComCo brought in
comedian Andy Dick to perform
at the Univirsity. However, Dick
"bombed" tie show, setting off a
feud between the head of ComCo
and the University Activities Cen-
ter, its parent group, and ComCo
lost most of its funding as a result.
The group had to downscale
its operations in order to func-
tion primarily as an improv com-
edy troupe as opposed to a sketch
comedy group that employed writ-
ers, singers, directors and actors.
Given that the group having to
diminish its repertoire and mem-
bership, recruiting new members
is still a laborious task.
ComCo recruits annually in the
fall semester so that new members
have the entire year to get to know

the rest of the group in order to
assimilate comfortably without
disturbing the group dynamic.
LSA junior Merranda McLaughlin
stressed the importance of estab-
lishing a comfort level with the
new members of the group.
"We're not looking for a specific
type of person," McLaughlin said.
"While recruiting, we ask our-
selves if we would like to hang out
with these people as friends and
that becomes a major criteria."
"One of the things that I look
for is commitment," Dennehy
said. "Being part of ComCo is a
four-year commitment; it's not
something you can do for a while
and leave."
Both members agreed in say-
ing that debating the pros and
cons of each auditioning member
is an integral part of the recruit-
ment process. Dennehy went on
to say that incumbent members
put in a lot of effort into recruiting
new ones since they realize how
important it is to pick the people
they like.
"Sometimes, the only thing stop-
ping us from going on about decid-
ing who to accept is the fact that the
Union closes at 2 a.m.," he said.
See COMCO, Page 4B



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