“Ok, so what if I was like a firefighter with like a funny top hat, and I also had like a really hot cool and thoughtful girlfriend. Would that like be funny or whatever?” Derek’s words echoed through the improv comedy practice (meeting? gathering? what do they even call those little get-togethers, I wouldn’t know because I’m cool). “Yes, and what if on our first date we had gone to a coffee shop, but I like spilled my coffee all over the floor and freaked out, but she thought it was super cute, and now she calls me her little coffee prince. Like wouldn’t that be such a funny bit guys, should I do that one? Let’s do it.” Silence falls over his comedy compatriots, as they all stare sullenly at the floor. For those in the Bucket O’ Laughs improv comedy group at Williams College, this scene is not an unusual one.
“Yeah, I mean, Derek is a great dude, don’t get me wrong, and we like hanging out with him, but like every scene we start, he always tries to incorporate the fact that his character has a girlfriend. It’s almost like… I mean I guess he’s using improv comedy as like a coping mechanism for the fact that he doesn’t have a girlfriend, but I also think he would have a better shot of getting a girlfriend if he didn’t do improv comedy,” says John “Funny Man” Jones, one of the three founders of Bucket O’ Laughs. “When we first started Bucket O’ Laughs, we weren’t in it for the money or the fame and we certainly weren’t in it for the chicks,” Funny Man continues, “We started this improv comedy group because we wanted to get together and just be silly little guys. Is that too much to ask? I mean of course he wants a girlfriend, we all do, but I refuse to let that affect my art.” When I asked Funny Man what exactly he considered his art, he started pretending to be a Supreme Court judge at a basketball court. The joke was that it was a basketball court, not a regular court. The joke was subversion. I had been subversed, but before I could remember to feign a laugh so as to not hurt the little guy’s feelings, Derek jumped in that he was playing the part of a spectator at the game because his “girlfriend” is on the team. “She always calls me her little basketball man since when we’re alone she likes to roll me into a ball and dribble me around the room.” He had done it. He had ruined Funny Man’s perfect basketball bit, but such is life and we are just ants sinking into an ever-growing mound.