Let’s Try This! showcases women in comedy

Actors from the improv group “The F Word” perform a skit about monsters for the Halloween season. The event’s theme of women in comedy aimed to challenge stereotypes about humor. // Photo courtesy of LTT!

On Saturday, Oct. 14, DramaTech’s improv comedy troupe, Let’s Try This! (LTT!) opened their doors to the community for a night filled with laughter, quick-witted one-liners and knee-slapping humor. The first of its kind, LTT!’s Women in Comedy improv showcase that saw performances from four troupes: The F Word, Boo and Bogs, LTT!’s Pyramid Scheme and Blondies. 

The groups came from a combination of local Atlanta talent and LTT! membership.

Held in the John Lewis Student Center’s Cypress Theater, the free event ran from 7 to 9 p.m.

Founded at Tech in 1989, LTT! “endeavor[s] to teach the basics [of improv] and give our members the freedom and resources to experiment with form and style. Our number one commitment, though, is to give our members and our audiences a community based around entertainment and fun!,” according to their website.

As suggested by their name, improv comedy is based almost entirely on spur-of-the-moment decisions and ideas, as such the art requires cohesion amongst members. Although comedy is open to all, after noticing a disparity between male and female performers, Aren Russ, fourth-year PHYS  and former LTT! member wanted to host an event that would showcase women’s talent in comedy.

Russ explained that the idea for the showcase emerged naturally in the course of a conversation with LTT! Troupe Leader Drew Mayernik, who asked Russ what they thought could be done to address his observation of improv as a “male dominated industry.” Russ’ response took a proactive stance.

“You really need to showcase that and emphasize that [gender diversity] and put the effort into getting gender diversity because just saying that we’re gender inclusive isn’t going to get people coming. If only men are in the shows, only men will come to them. You need to do events that center non-men, center women in improv and from that this event was born,” Russ said.

LTT!’s atmosphere of inclusivity is something Russ mentioned as their favorite thing about the organization. Unlike many college improv troupes that require members to audition or to pay for instructional classes, LTT! is open to all regardless of expertise.

“LTT! is one of the few improv troupes out there that isn’t audition’s based, it is very much a walk up and try stuff [experience], that’s why it’s called Let’s Try This!. You don’t need any experience, you don’t need any qualifications, you don’t have to pay for the classes. Every fall they do an 8-week set of high quality improv classes, and it’s super open to anyone who wants to experiment on stage,” Russ said.

Throughout the night, the audience witnessed spontaneous set-ups, a revolving cast of roles and quick-thinking performers who often wore multiple hats within a set. One performer with nearly a decade of experience, Ella Boyett of the comedy duo “Boo and Bogs,” shared her experience.

“Whenever I started in improv, there was one woman on the main cast at the theater that I was at and now seeing this many women playing all the time in Atlanta and this [showcase] just being a sample size for the woman playing in Atlanta is really beautiful … really really nice,” said Boyett.

Having nearly a decade of experience, Boyett explained that earlier in their careers, the duo, “used to practice all the time, at least once a week, but we’ve been doing it for a long time so now we just touch base before we start,” explaining that their ability to be in-sync with one another now comes as second nature.

The showcase also served as a learning experience for newer artists, such as LTT’s Pyramid Scheme troupe. The comedy quartet was composed of Uma Anand, second-year CS, Cate Crutcher, fourth-year ID, Madison DeBruin, third-year ME and Tee Roberts fifth-year BIOL. The emerging troupe was led by Russ.

While some members like Roberts mentioned previous experience with drama and theater in high school, others like Anand explained that LTT! provided them with their first opportunity .

 “I think it’s so cool that we can start with nothing and create an entire play … it’s so invigorating,” said Anand on her favorite thing about improv comedy.

“I just like being able to make people laugh,” Roberts expressed, a sentiment all Pyramid Scheme members nodded their heads in agreement with.

Many of the performers like DeBruin expressed a general feeling of satisfaction with the event, which successfully connected new artists with more experienced ones who shared  volunteered feedback.  

“I had the most amazing time with everyone that I worked with and it was so cool to see all these women come out and prove how talented they are, it was fantastic,” said DeBruin.

Closing out the evening with her perspective on women-themed events, Anand expressed her belief that these gatherings are not meant to tokenize women’s accomplishments within a given field, but to help people realize that, despite stereotypes, men and women are on equal footing when it comes to potential.