Improv meets Rice

Every Monday evening, after dinner, I go to one of my favorite classes this semester: Introduction to Improv, taught by Lovett senior Jake Hassell. For an hour every Monday, I get to forget about biochemistry and physical chemistry and instead focus on love, life and laughter.

I mostly signed up for this class because I think Jake is one of the funniest people that I know. I met Jake my sophomore year when he went to Screw Yer Roommate (“Screw”) with my suitemate. Screw is an event planned by Rice Program Council where you set your roommate up on a blind date with anyone across campus. You and your blind date wear matching costumes, coordinated by your respective roommate pairs. On one Friday in early September, all students participating in Screw gather in an outdoor quad and attempt to find their date via their costume. After finding each other, students go to dinner with their blind date in a group of friends. Sophomore year, Jake went with one of my best friends, Alexandra, to Screw. We got dinner together in a local creperie, and ever since then, I knew that Jake was the funniest person I’ve ever met.

Ever since sophomore year, Jake and I have been good friends. Over the years, Jake has put his skills to use by participating in numerous improv comedy shows. On campus, Jake participates in, and is the current president of Spontaneous Combustion, Rice’s oldest and only improv troupe. Off campus, Jake participates in many improv shows across Houston, and kills it every night. So when I heard he was teaching a student taught course on improv this year, I knew that I had to sign up.

Student taught courses (STC’s) are a unique style of courses that allow undergraduates to teach and take classes in non-traditional areas. These courses count for 1 credit hour and are graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory scale. They are a fun way to learn about a skill from your peers and to meet new people across campus.

Jake’s course on improv is my favorite STC that I’ve taken. For an hour every week, I meet with eighteen of my friends across campus and play improv games. Through many awkward jokes and laughter, we’ve learned the basics of improv and applied it in a variety of situations. As a part of this course, we have to see an improv show in Houston and critique it. My friends and I attended one this Thursday at Station Theater where Kevin Hart was in the audience! It was insanely fun and I’m so excited to do it again!

While I don’t know if I’ll continue studying improv in the future, I’ve definitely gained a deeper appreciation for the art and will continue to attend improv shows whenever I can. I’m so happy that I had the opportunity to learn this from one of my friends here at Rice!

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