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Nov. 19, 2003


RENOWNED COMEDY TROUPE ABOUT MORE THAN LAUGHS

    OSWEGO -- Audiences who see the Shaun Cassidy Fan Club Improv Comedy Troupe may suspect they are catching funny, unpredictable entertainment. But they may not realize the troupe was named one of the 13 Cool Campus Clubs in the country by a national publication.

    The CollegeBound Network's recognition noted the group "is such a hit at SUNY Oswego . . . that it's been carrying a cult following since 1990." Keeping that tradition alive, if not improving on it, involves hours of education and rehearsal, said club President Josh Grosvent.

    Grosvent, a senior broadcasting major, and Vice President Shawn Graham, a senior public relations major, lead the process of organizing the club and honing the skills of performers. "We both joke that we're improv comedy majors with communication minors," Grosvent said. "Half of our week is spent working with this group."

    At a recent Monday meeting, Grosvent offered compliments and critiques of the previous Saturday's performance and then led a number of creativity exercises. In one activity stressing spontaneity, quick thinking and acceptance, six performers had one minute to think up six different scenes on one subject, then acted them out.

    Around 20 members participate regularly, and anyone may join. Weekly shows at 8:30 p.m. Saturdays in the Ozone in Hewitt Union involve six performers, while eight students take the stage every other Wednesday at 9 p.m. in the Johnson Hall main lounge.

    Everyone gets into the act at some point, as the casts rotate, and the Wednesday shows serve as developmental opportunities for the main Saturday performances.
 
   Many of the lessons transcend improvisational comedy. "We do a lot of education, performing techniques, things you can use just giving a speech," Grosvent said. More active members gain organizational, promotional and interpersonal experience, Graham added.

    "A lot of people join because they genuinely want to make people laugh. I know that's why I joined," Graham explained. "Some people want to open up more in front of people. We've seen some shy people really open up."

    When the troupe performed in Manhattan during winter break, they attracted enough Oswego students and alumni to set an improv comedy show attendance record at the New York Comedy Club. They have entertained colleges and comedy clubs around the state, offering "a chance for people who want to do comedy in front of crowds like that to see if they can do it," Graham said.

    The recognition as one of the 13 Cool Campus Clubs was "a huge honor" because many colleges have similar troupes, but only Oswego's made the list, Grosvent said. Graham added that it reflects the group's attempts to be less "cookie-cutter" and to reach wider and larger audiences.

    For more information, visit the Shaun Cassidy Fan Club Improv Comedy Troupe Web site at www.oswego.edu/shaun.

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Shaun Cassidy Fan Club improvises a scene during rehearsal

ACTING OUT -- Members of the Shaun Cassidy Fan Club Improv Comedy Troupe at SUNY Oswego work on a skit during a recent rehearsal in Hewitt Union's Bell Auditorium. In front is Colin Abele, while in back, from left, are Shawn Graham, Tom McComb, Kailin Edrington, Andrew Bonoffski and Mike Gewirtzman. The improv troupe, named one of the 13 Cool Campus Clubs nationwide by the CollegeBound Network, entertains audiences as it bolsters students' communication and thinking skills.


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