Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

December 11, 2012

IU Kokomo senior creates improvisational comedy troupe

Indiana University Kokomo student Uriah Pittman tried to return a package of used adult diapers to a fictional store last week.

He had no idea that’s what he was returning, though. Pittman fished for clues to guess what ridiculous item he was holding during the improvisation game Return Counter.

“We can’t take this back; it’s used,” said fictional store clerk Emilee Benge.

Pittman assured the clerk he didn’t use it. His wife did, he said, still not knowing what he was holding.

The students sitting in IU Kokomo’s cafeteria burst into laughter.

“Don’t say that about your wife,” Benge said. “She’s a lovely lady.”

Pittman started putting the pieces of the puzzle together when Benge made an inconspicuous reference to babies and old people.

“So you’re not going to take back this dirty baby diaper?” Pittman asked, finally catching on to the ruse.

Benge paused a moment before saying, “It Depends.”

The audience at the comedy show laughed again.

Benge said she and the other eight members of the Sum Antics improvisation group feed off of that laughter.

Sum Antics, the university’s only student-run comedy troupe, is Benge’s brain child.

She created it last year as part of her senior project for a theater class.

“It was a lot of work,” Benge said.

She went through the tedious process of establishing a new student group on campus.

Then she had to promote it enough that other students would try out to be a part of it. She held her first auditions and selected seven new members for the group, she said.

But the hardest part of all, she said, was establishing a reputation among other students as a “real” comedy group.

“They thought it was a joke at first,” she said.

It’s something group members take seriously, Benge said. They practice for two or three hours once a week, perfecting their craft.

Members bring in new games to try out. Benge said they figure out which ones they’re best at and focus on getting better at those.

Among the group’s favorites are Casanova and the Dating Game.

The Dating Game requires three group members to assume interesting personalities or quirks and compete for a date. They answer questions and give hints about their personalities, so the eligible bachelor or bachelorette can figure out who each is supposed to be.

In Casanova, group members take turns tossing out pickup lines to an audience member. The lines are supposed to be specific to the audience member’s job.

At last week’s show, the audience member was a bartender studying to be a nurse.

“I hear you’re going to be a male nurse,” group member Matt “Bama” Rasmussen told the man. “Want to play formaldehyde and go seek?”

Benge said their shows are always so unpredictable. That’s part of what makes this type of comedy so difficult, she said.

Audience members help shape the show by tossing out ideas for some of the games. Last week, students in the cafeteria decided Pittman was going to return the adult diapers in the Return Counter game.

That kind of audience participation forces group members to think on their feet.

“I never know what my group is going to say,” Benge said.

Sarah Farenc laughed and said that was definitely true.

She said IU Kokomo Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke was sitting in the audience when the group started talking about drug houses.

“It’s good,” Farenc said of the show. “Then it can go bad, but it’s always funny.”

Benge said she warns people the public shows contain adult content, but it hasn’t seemed to hurt them. Their humor has received a good response from people, she said.

“A guy I work with, who never has anything good to say, watched our show and said, ‘I felt like I was watching a really good episode of “Whose Line Is It Anyway,”’” Benge said. “That’s a great compliment to us.”

Sum Antics’ first show last year drew about 60 people.

Now, they do at least eight shows each year. Their most recent Ugly Christmas Sweater show brought in 100 people.

Benge said there’s no other student group of its kind on campus.

Students from all backgrounds and courses of study have found a home in Sum Antics.

They all have a flair for the theatrical, but each brings something different, group members said.

Sofia Stout said Rasmussen is “really loud and obnoxious” when he performs, and group member Mary Olk is always making faces.

Stout is considered the group’s resident optimist – always encouraging everyone.

Stout said she loves the whole group. She had just one thought when she saw a Sum Antics table at a student activities fair.

“I thought, ‘Ahh, family; you’re my people,’” Stout said.

Stout is one of six women in Sum Antics this year. Females outnumber males 3 to 1, which Benge said is unusual in an improvisation group.

“This has served as a stepping stone for girls to step out of their comfort zones,” Benge said. “We’re promoting confidence and self-assurance.”

Farenc said it’s also a good form of group therapy.

“With all the stress of school, it’s good to just be funny for a couple of hours each week,” she said.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Two face attempted murder for Wednesday shooting Kokomo police arrested two men on attempted murder charges stemming from a Wednesday afternoon shooting in the area of South Union and Harrison streets. No one was injured. Officers converged on the area about 3:30 p.m. to numerous reports of shots f

    April 24, 2014

  • 2nd UPDATE: 1 found dead after apartment fire near Purdue

    Authorities say one person was found dead after a fire that badly burned an apartment building where many Purdue University students live near the campus.

    April 24, 2014

  • Art FOr the Sky Wallace School hosts Indiana’s first Art for the Sky project From the ground, the crowd gathered at Wallace School of Integrated Arts on Wednesday seemed like nothing more than people in colorful T-shirts standing in odd groups. But with "sky sight," the formation took on the large-scale image of a paint palet

    April 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • City acquires more right of way for Nickel Plate Trail extension The city of Kokomo acquired another piece of land for the construction of the Nickel Plate Trail in its quest to extend the trail from county line to county line. The city's Board of Public Works and Safety approved a recreational trail easement that

    April 24, 2014

  • County residents speak out against wind energy As debate continues over the construction of wind turbines in Howard County and its neighbors, residents are turning up the heat on officials in an effort to stop development in the southeast corner of the county. Concerned citizens spoke out during

    April 24, 2014

  • Driver in fatal hit and run on Center Road pleads guilty The driver of a truck involved in an August hit-and-run crash that killed a 13-year-old boy could get as much as seven years behind bars if a judge accepts his plea. Randall K. Rector, 58, pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a crash resulting in d

    April 24, 2014

  • TUFF CURBS Locals upset over Markland curb plans Plans to eliminate left-hand turns along the city's busiest business corridor caused a major uproar Tuesday. Business owners, city officials and state legislators spent much of Tuesday and Wednesday on the phone protesting to Indiana Department of Tr

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police reports Howard County Arrests Tuesday, 4:34 p.m., police arrested Alisha Whitt, 27, 500 block of South Washington Street, at that residence, on a parole violation. Tuesday, 6:21 p.m., police arrested a 15-year-old male in the 400 block of West Sycamore Stree

    April 24, 2014

  • Eastern to move forward with $2M renovation to jr./sr. high school GREENTOWN -- Renovations at Eastern Sr./Jr. High will continue this summer after the board of education on Tuesday approved spending another $2 million on the final stage of upgrades. There will be no net impact on taxes, which has been a priority fo

    April 24, 2014

  • Volunteers still helping tornado victims Back in March, volunteers set out to inform tornado-ravaged neighborhoods there is still help out there. The small group of volunteers, part of the Long Term Recovery Team, took to the streets of the worst areas hit by the Nov. 17 tornadoes, passing

    April 24, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
US Proposes Pay-for-priority Internet Standards Wife Mourns Chicago Doctor Killed in Afghanistan FDA Proposes Regulations on E-cigarettes Kerry Warns Russia of Expensive New Sanctions Mideast Peace Talks Stall on Hamas Deal Cody Walker Remembers His Late Brother Paul Grieving South Korea Puts Up Yellow Ribbons Raw: Kerry Brings His Dog to Work Raw: Girls Survive Car Crash Into Their Bedroom Three U.S. Doctors Killed by Afghan Security Yankees' Pineda Suspended 10 Games for Pine Tar Colleagues Mourn Death of Doctors in Afghanistan Ukraine Launches Operation Against Insurgents Obama Reassures Japan on China Raw: Car Crashes Into San Antonio Pool Time Magazine Announces Top Influencers List Raw: Angry Relatives Confront SKorea Officials Bigger Riders Means Bigger Horses Out West Yankees Pineda Ejected for Pine Tar Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries