Campus improv group rising in popularity
League of Laughter (LOL) is set to open for mentalist Chris Carter tonight at 8:00 p.m. in the St. Louis Room, offering up their usual brand of sketch-based comedy.
The League, SLU’s student-based improvisational comedy group, specializes in a comedic style in the vein of the once-popular “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?” playing improv games that take audience suggestions and use them to create a scene. The group usually holds their own monthly performances in Xavier Hall, but opening for a well-established entertainer gives them an opportunity to raise their profile.
“We are really excited to open for a mentalist,” Kunaal Bajwa, Vice President of LOL, said. “Also an audience the size of the [St. Louis Room] typically has more energy and that equals more prompts and overall a fun time.”
According to Michael Baris, President of LOL, the group has been pulling in bigger audiences in recent years. While they used to average 20 people a show, mostly friends of the performers, a recent performance had attendance of roughly 100.
“After a semester of getting better and building our reputation we had a show of 100 in the tiny Black Box Theater [last semester],” Baris said. By the time the theater had filled the group was actually in violation of fire code, which Baris described as a “really good problem.”
As a result the League split their show into two hour-long sessions. Their last performance saw 140 spectators over both performances. However, tonight won’t be their first opportunity to open for a bigger name.
“We were fortunate enough to open for Kate McKinnon, the Saturday Night Live comedian as well. That was really big, that was a fantastic opportunity,” Baris said. “We performed in front of 800 that night and opening up for [someone who is for] a lot of us our favorite comedian… It was a star struck sort of moment.”
The troupe earned their spot when Ana Sontag, a Program Coordinator for the Student Involvement Center, saw them open for McKinnon. She approached members afterwards and invited them to perform again.
LOL meets in Xavier Hall every week in order to practice different improv techniques, get comfortable, and generally help each other grow as performers.
“I enjoy the club’s challenge to make something out of nothing, by taking one prompt and running with it to make a relationship and scene, all while being a hilarious adventure,” Bajwa said.
Baris hopes to maintain recent attendance numbers throughout the rest of the semester, and the troupe is continuing to add to their comedic repertoire with new games and techniques.
Ultimately League of Laughter just wants to bring more smiles to campus.
“Not every student has the money to go to a show at the fox or see a movie, so we give them an hour of entertainment absolutely free,” Baris said.