Interview with TBA Improv and Sketch Comedy
This week, justArts&Culture spoke with Anna Cass ’21, a member of the TBA Improv and Sketch Comedy, about the “Judges vs. Owls: TBA and Bad Grammar’s 4th Annual Joint Show” on Nov. 13.
JustArts&Culture: Tell me about how you get into improv.
Anna Cass: I am a member of TBA. I got into TBA during my second semester of my first year at Brandeis. I learned improv by auditioning during my first semester for all the improv groups and learning the games. I was interested in it and I have always been a silly person. I have never done improv before, but I did a capella in high school, and I felt like I have done the singing thing and I wanted to do something else. Improv seemed really interesting to me. I tried out and did not get in but I had so much fun in auditions. I met a lot of my great friends through auditioning with them. None of us got in, but I made a lot of friends as a first year that way. And then second semester, I saw flyers and I was like ‘I didn’t get last time but that was really fun so I will give it another go.’ And then I got into TBA and it’s my favorite thing to do.
JAC: What is it like to collaborate with another improv group?
AC: It’s a tradition to do our competition show with Bad Grammer. We basically try to challenge ourselves by embodying different tropes. … We mixed it all up so we can work with different people, which is really really fun. And then the team competes against each other, but they have to stick to certain tropes. One group will try to be pensive and another group will try to be sillier.
JAC: Is it hard to work with a different group when you are not familiar with their improv style?
AC: So for my experience with TBA, I know we work really hard to work together within our team. … We work really hard to learn to read each other and be able to bounce off each other’s ideas and support each other, so you are not just out there in the middle of the scene. … We can apply the skills when working with other people. It’s always really cool to see how those skills translate. I know within TBA, I kind of can predict how different members will think or make decisions because we work together so often. But to do it with a new person you kind of have to be on your toes a little bit more. So to do it in the structure of a competition is really fun because it raises the stake just a little bit.
JAC: How was the turnout this year?
AC: I would say we filled Pollock! ... I was really proud that so many people came and there were a lot of people in the audience that I didn’t recognize. … Bad Grammer took a few new members and we took one new member, so it’s really cool to see first years coming out to the shows and getting involved in what their friends are doing. I remember when I was a first year it was so fun. My hall would come to my show. My friends would come. … When you are getting into it at the beginning, it’s really fun to have your friends there to support you.
JAC: Anything else you would like to tell the readers?
AC: We have Brandeis Improv Society on Mondays at eight in the classroom in Schwartz. … It is hard to get into comedy especially because there are techniques to learn and different things like that. There’s no comedy group that does everything, so if people want to try it out, or just want to play the improv game, or get feedback on standup or write a sketch together, they can come. We usually have a plan or lesson, but we are willing to do whatever people want. So it’s basically an open club, where you don’t have to perform but you can try it out. ...
The audience was awesome at the show. I am really pleased with everyone’s enthuthiasm. They made it really fun. Ellis and I were hosting. It’s always difficult to manage so many people but I think this year went really well. … The performers did a really good job... We love Bad Grammer. It’s really cool to work with them. They are really awesome people.
— Luke Liu