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April 16, 2024

Buttered Niblets talk improv and comedy

By JENNIFER DIAMOND | December 6, 2012

There are a couple “key rules” of improvisation: never say no, always add information, eliminate clutter and find something that makes you laugh to expand on and play out to its logical conclusion.


Yet there is something about the spontaneity – the unplanned-ness — of improv comedy that tends to intimate newcomers and keeps veteran comedians coming back for more.

While at times Hopkins seems a little starved for humor, this campus has its very own improv troupe that is on a mission to make you laugh.

The Buttered Niblets are quirky, silly, and sometimes plain old weird, but attend a show and you’ll see a goofy sort of energy rarely witnessed at Hopkins. And better yet, try out some improv for yourself during intersession.

This week, The News-Letter was able to correspond with sophomores Morris Kraicer and Pamela Hugi, two members of the Buttered Niblets who will be leading an improv comedy class for students of all levels over intersession.

The News-Letter: I know you both have been in the Buttered Niblets since your first semester freshman year. Tell me a little about your background in improv and comedy in general.

Morris Kraicer: I had never done improv before [joining the Niblets]... I always considered myself a pretty funny guy though. I also love stand-up. I would watch it on TV all the damn time and think about trying it out some time. I started improvising because I always prided myself on my comedy skills and I wanted to show the world what I was made of.

Pamela Hugi: I was in a long form improv troupe in high school. I caught the improv bug and I just can’t shake it.

NL: What do you like about improv? How is it fundamentally different from other comedy forms?

MK: I like improv for a lot of reasons. It’s so natural! There is nothing memorized, so it never sounds rehearsed, and I think that’s how comedy works best. You can’t try to be funny, you have to just be funny. If you “try” then it seems awkward... and nothing can go wrong! If something does go wrong – great! It will probably be very funny, which is the goal in the first place...sometimes I like to call improv comedy, organized fun. (I just thought of that.)

PH: What makes improv so unique is the fact that when you walk on that stage, you have no idea what is going to happen. Literally anything could go down. But you still know it is going to be awesome. It’s a thrill, and when a scene or a game really works, there is no better feeling.

NL: So you’re running an improv workshop over intersession. Tell me about it! What’s the plan?

MK: We want to concentrate on various aspects of improv comedy over certain time intervals. We’re going to teach things like finding “game,” character/relationship building, heightening, creating and maintaining the space, and other stuff by playing improv games that require using those skills. We will eventually move on to long form, where people can really put their newfound skills to the test! It’s gonna be a blast!

NL: Why should someone take the workshop? What’s the benefit?

MK: Life is basically one big improv scene. Being better at improv = being better at life. I honestly believe I have gotten a lot better at carrying out a conversation ever since I joined the troupe.

If you have ever considered trying improv comedy, now is your chance! You can sign up for Morris and Pamela’s workshop on the Student Life website. Be sure to check them out at the Buttered Niblets show tomorrow (Friday) in Arellano Theater at 8 p.m. Tickets are $1 and can be purchased at the door.

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