As members of the student organization Black Sheep Improv circled up before rehearsal, they shared something about their weekend before beginning a rehearsal full of laughter and fun. A theater game of “kitty cat careers” got the giggles going in this rehearsal, and it was clear to see that the members of Black Sheep Improv are a close-knit family.
Black Sheep Improv is an audition-based, long-form improv comedy troupe celebrating its 20th year at Ohio University.
Quinn Bennett, a senior studying environmental studies, is one of the co-presidents of Black Sheep Improv. Bennett shared a brief history behind the organization and how it has come to be what it is today.
“Originally, it started out as an improv group that was the Ohio University improv troupe, and there were sort of two troupes within that,” Bennett said. “There was one that was called, Six Pencils, or something like that. Then the other one was Black Sheep Improv, and then it sort of just turned into one group.”
When Bennett first joined the organization, the group still had a tradition of doing a show where smaller groups would perform. In recent years, the organization decided it would be more fun to do improv with all of its friends and merge into one big troupe.
Bennett said the people of the organization are the best part and described the group as a family.
“I just get to come here and sort of play pretend with some of my best friends for four hours a week,” Bennett said. “Then once every other week we get to go out and make a bunch of people laugh. It's really one of the best organizations on campus.”
Clare Hickey, a junior studying English literature, is the other copresident and also runs the organization’s Instagram. Bennett gave Hickey a lot of credit for getting the word about the organization through social media. Hickey said the organization has been one of the best parts of her life.
“On Thursdays, we just get to make each other and people laugh,” Hickey said. “I feel like there aren't a lot of comedy groups on campus, so I'm glad that we've created that.”
Hickey said the friendships she has made in the organization are something special to her. She said it’s always exciting to her when the audition process is over and people are added to the team because she knows they are all going to be best friends. Hickey said when auditioning for the group those auditioning should remember to be the most genuine version of themselves and not be afraid to stand out.
Macy Fletcher, a sophomore studying math and management, called Black Sheep Improv the highlight of her week and said it has made her college experience.
Fletcher believes it is the friendships in the organization that are the most exciting part of being a member and all of the friends she has made are going to be lifelong. Fletcher would also agree with Hickey that laughter is important to her within the organization. She said having built-in time to laugh is fun to have.
“No one gets enough of it,” Fletcher said, laughing. “Everyone takes everything way too seriously and everyone loves to laugh. Why wouldn’t you do this if you had the chance?”
Fletcher said she would not be the same without her friends in Black Sheep Improv. She said she believes every member of the organization has changed her in some way.
Molly Nixon, a freshman studying theater, said she enjoys being in a tight-knit group on the same wavelength. She said it was rewarding to go out on stage and have a house full of people who are ready to have a fun time with them. Black Sheep Improv always tries to have a good time on stage no matter the situation.
“That's what improv is about, you know,” Nixon said. “Having a good time with the people you're around. It's about the team making each other look good and that's what makes it a good show.”
Nixon said it is fun to get recognized around campus after only doing a couple of shows. She said the sense of recognition is something that sticks out to being a member of the organization. Nixon would agree that being a part of Black Sheep Improv has also improved her college experience.
“It's really opened up my network, having upperclassmen, especially, just give me a hand and help me find out where the cool places are,” Nixon said.
Mia Leyland, a sophomore studying media arts production, said it is sweet when they are recognized on campus for the group’s performances.
“It’s the sweetest thing,” Leyland said. “Sometimes I don't know the people … so it always scares me. It's also a little funny because usually they're very nice, but I kind of forget this is something I'm doing in front of everyone.”
Alex Olsen, a sophomore studying acting, said Fletcher is one of his good friends and encouraged him to join the organization. Olsen said he always saw how much fun she was having in Black Sheep Improv, so he thought it would be fun to try it out. He also agreed it is fun to get recognized around campus.
Olsen said everyone in the group having their own sense of humor is also what drove him to join the organization. He said he thought it was cool to make his impact on a group that will live on past his time at OU.
Black Sheep Improv performs in Seigfred Hall every other Thursday at 9 p.m. and all of the members enjoy hearing the roar of laughter and putting smiles on students' faces. The members of the organization have formed life-long connections and it is clear through their performances on stage.
“It's a very wonderful community to be a part of,” Olsen said. “College is all about forming these tight-knit groups and communities. I consider almost everyone on that team a very close friend.”