Press Pass

Sheer Idiocy sharpens wit, improvises with freshmen

Learning session culminates with evening show

A FIRST-YEAR STUDENT EXPRESSES his emotions with exaggerated gestures during an improv activity with Sheer Idiocy.

If there is one word to describe Sheer Idiocy, it’s “witty.” First year students were taught the art of quickly coming up with something funny and clever without losing the theme. This Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond activity was the embodiment of improvisation. It can let you be more creative with your words by having to think fast without losing accuracy.

All the students who participated in the event offered much enthusiasm. There were so many funny lines that I thought I was on the show Whose Line is it Anyway? They learned many different skills, such as going off of other lines while still keeping up with the topic. The students learned how to work with the person speaking before them.

In order to sharpen their wit, the students played numerous games throughout the entire day in order to prepare for an evening show in the McNeil Room. In “Choose Your Own Improv,” a host asks the audience questions about the scene the players have to perform, and, through the audience’s response, the players react to the answer. In another game, “Objection,” one player begins with a noncontroversial topic, and the other players have to object with a wittier response. There are no limits or barriers. It’s no wonder the performers fretted about being late for a meeting about Jell-O tubs by being stuck in a desert or crossing bridges over lava made of chocolate syrup. David Silverman ’14, head of Sheer Idiocy, was surprised by the intelligence and the energy brought by the first-year students.

While I was observing, I was surprised by how much one can do with improvisation. One can literally do and say anything. Based on the laughter coming from the audience, the performance in the McNeil room was a sensation. The performers were able to interact with the audience very well. From scenarios such as pretend roller coasters (“Let’s do the Ferris Wheel; that doesn’t explode”), island scenes (“I can’t pick up the coconuts with my small arms”), and lifeguards at a cesspool (“I think he’s dead” and “Kick him harder”), the audience was roaring with laughter. Not only did the actors have to use certain words, but they also had to act out what they meant to say, especially when “Jaba” was the only word they could use. I couldn’t believe that first year students, who only practiced for one day, were able to put on such a great and entertaining show. After the first year students got off stage, the experienced members of Sheer Idiocy showed off their talents. Their performance was by far the best one of the night. They exemplified what the art of improvisation is all about. These first year students have a good start, and everyone is looking forward to the development of their comedic talent.

I had a great time seeing the students transition from shy, awkward freshmen into loud, confident performers. Sheer Idiocy is a welcoming place that allows anyone to explore a different side of his or her personality. If you want to a see a normal RPI student completely uncensored, Sheer Idiocy is the group to participate in.