Bending Chicago, seriously


Seriously Bent to compete in Chicago for third year in a row

Angela Bray
Journal Staff

Seriously Bent, Suffolk University’s improv comedy troupe, beat Yale and Tufts to win the Chicago Improv Festival’s annual College Improv Tournament’s northeast regional finals.

Seriously Bent stays funny with its 12 members; however, representing Suffolk at the tournament were sophomores Hollie Hart and Ethan Bukowiec, juniors Christian Roberts and Alec Lawless, and senior Cavan Rogers.

“The way we determine who will be performing really depends on experience,” said Roberts. “The new members usually won’t get the chance to perform until the second semester, however ultimately it depends on your level of improv experience. Improv is not meant to be a competition, so it was important for us to go into the competition and treat it as a regular show like we do on campus.”

Hart said the freshman and new team members most likely need training before going on stage. “Although improv is spontaneous comedy, there are a lot of rules! Once they start to ‘get it,’ then they can perform,” she said.

“This is only my second year, so I still have much to learn!” said Hart. “But honestly, we are all a team, and its not about one person over the other. We go in together, and go out together.”

The competition was held November 20 at the Improv Asylum in Boston’s North End.  Two afternoon rounds were followed by a midnight round in which the afternoon’s winners returned to the stages. Seriously Bent made its first appearance in the round against Cheap Sox of Tufts University and Seahawk Down of Salve Regina.

Trevor Livingston and Kelly Dooley, who both graduated Suffolk last year and were members of the improv group, hosted the tournament.

Dooley said the team rehearses twice weekly to figure out a structure. “The story feeling moves it, it’s casual,” she said.

Livingston said the structure they followed in the tournament was new.

“We prepared for the weekend of the regionals by really just practicing different structures of improv until we found something easy to do but would make us stand out,” said Roberts.

“We just wanted to have fun and not force the jokes which was unfortunately what a lot of other groups did,” said Roberts. “They tried too hard to appeal to the judges.”

Seriously Bent placed first, Cheap Sox second. The round was judged by Melissa Paradice, Mike Descoteaux and Steve Kleindler. In a performance, Paradice said she looks for character choices, scene objectives, and that the performance is moving in a direction. Descoteaux judges on ensemble support, variety, understanding of the format, and of course, humor.

“I watch for support and respect for each other, a shared sense of togetherness, polish, pacing, and that they’re having fun,” said Kleindler. “If you do all of those, you will be funny.”

This is Paradice’s third year judging. “In my first year, I was surprised, in a good way, by [Seriously Bent’s] quality. Every year I can see the group has grown.”

The following round was between Boston University’s Liquid Fun, Northeastern University’s Improv’d, and Yale’s The Purple Crayon. Yale placed first, Boston University second.

Seriously Bent beat Yale and Tufts in the midnight round, winning the regional tournament.

What now? They will fly to Chicago to compete in the finals on February 26 with other schools throughout the country who won their regional tournaments. The winner of the finals will be named the best college improv troupe in the United States.  Last year, Seriously Bent lost in Chicago by only a half point.

Tufts’ team has the wild card, meaning they have a chance to perform in Chicago. Tufts, along with the other runner-up teams, will be entered into a video contest. The winner chosen by judges will also continue to Chicago.

“I really felt like it was a great group effort this year,” said Bukowiec. “No one person really carried the performance, and that is great. We are all very close as a group and I think we showed that in our performance.”

“We were one of the original groups in the tournament, and it’s good to see the tournament grow,” said Livingston. “From what I can see, [Seriously Bent] has too,” said Livingston. “Ethan and Hollie were only freshmen last year, they have grown so much. [Kelly and I] are proud.”

Their next performance will be at the Performing Arts Office’s holiday concert on December 8 at 7 p.m.