Improv groups bring laughs

Pappy Parker Players open for Upright Citizens Brigade

On Saturday evening, around 200 people filled the seats of Lecture Hall 1 for a night of comedy as Binghamton University’s Pappy Parker Players, a student-run improv group, warmed up the stage for the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB), an improv group featured for three seasons on its self-titled show on Comedy Central.

The Pappys opened the night with interactive improv games like “3-2-1 Kill Me” and “Innuendo,” asking the audience to suggest a word and performing a skit based off of that word.

Following their performance, UCB took the stage and interviewed BU sophomore Danni Faraczek, who provided material for UCB’s show by giving details about the resident assistant process, her roommates, her housing plans next year and the new Dickinson Community construction.

“Any school that has an improv team here helps immensely because the students are aware of what it is that we do,” said Ben Kameaka, a member of UCB. “Students already have a familiarity with the art form so its just great to come out to an audience that already knows what you’re doing and respects it.”

UCB performed at BU for the first time three years ago and has performed annually since. Former Pappy Brandon Gardner, a member of UCB, graduated from BU in 2005.

“We first thought of them a few years ago when we realized one of them was an alumnus,” said Garrett Imbrenda, variety chair of the Student Association Programming Board. “I am really excited to have them back here.”

The ties between the Pappys and UCB are also rooted in a scholarship program started by the Pappys that allows one student to take classes at UCB Theatre.

UCB has two permanent theaters in New York City and one in Los Angeles. The company also sends out a group of comedians called the UCB Touring Company, which consists of house team members who travel and perform.

“I think what I enjoy about improv, and hopefully many of these folks would agree with me, is because it is something immediate and that show just exists between you and the audience that night,” said Langan Kingsley, a member of UCB. “It’s sort of a shared experience in a way other performing arts are not sometimes.”

Kingsley and Kameaka performed Saturday along with Don Fanelli and Zack Willis.

“Upright Citizens Bridge is the premier comedy scene in New York City,” said Ben Eisenkop, former Pappy and a doctoral student in biology.

Audience members said UCB did a good job of relating to students with BU-specific jokes.

“The show did a great job of incorporating Binghamton references,” said Josh Yeh, an undeclared freshman. “Very funny Dickinson jokes.”

Amanda Hoffman, a 2009 BU graduate, said the show was a great demonstration of improv comedy at work.

“Tonight is a good night for BU students to get exposed to long-form improv comedy,” Hoffman said.

Student Association Vice President for Programming Brianna Friia said it was exciting to bring UCB back to BU.

“It was amazing having UCB here!” Friia said. “It was a very relatable show because they pulled from topics on campus and it made it hilarious.”