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BBQ Kitten: A night full of laughs

BBQ Kitten, Bradley’s improv troupe, performed its first show in over a year last Friday night in Neumiller Hall. Bradley Hall had a line of students out the door waiting to get in to see the comedians.

Andrew Derdena, the president of the troupe, couldn’t believe the audience that had assembled for the show.

“[The] turnout was pretty nuts; I think this is some of the most people we’ve ever gotten,” Derdena, senior creative writing major, said. “We warm up in the side room, and I kept walking out to see where we were at, and every time there was just a line and a line, and I didn’t know what to do.”

The troupe showcased its humor and improv talents by playing many mini-games throughout the evening.

One of the most popular games the troupe played was called “DVD.” The game consisted of the performers improvising a five-chapter “movie” with audience suggestions, which led to a movie about guinea pig wrestling and shrink rays. Funny accents and pretend “rewinds” garnered the most laughs.

Another popular game was “Survivor,” where the Kittens improvised a scene and eliminated players until one Kitten had to perform the same scene alone from memory.

The final game consisted of improv pick-up lines based on Disney characters which matched the Disney theme of the show.

“For the troupe as a whole, it was a great first night for everyone,” Derdena said. “I am really proud of everyone and how they did tonight. I am excited to see our rehearsals after this night and do even better if that’s possible.”

Maggie Sullivan, senior theater arts and public relations and advertising double major, was among many students who enjoyed themselves at the event. She has been coming to BBQ Kitten’s shows since her freshman year.

“I am friends with a lot of the Kittens; I am a big advocate of them,” Sullivan said. “I go to open rehearsals on Wednesdays from 10:30 p.m. to midnight, and they are just really funny.”

The event had an entry fee of $3 at the door, or $2 if students showed proof that they followed BBQ Kitten’s Instagram. That fee is used to help BBQ Kitten’s operations.

“With [the entry fee], we create multiple different types of merchandise like shirts, hats, magnets, etc.,” Derdena said. “We want students to be proud and excited to wear and flaunt our apparel. That way, their friends and family can ask them where it’s from, and they can brag about how they’ve been performing improv every Wednesday night with us.”

Jamie Yerkes, the troupe’s vice president, is an experienced improv performer.

“I have been doing improv since I was little, and when I came here, I thought it was a good way to meet friends who were involved in the same things that I loved and enjoyed, and I ended up meeting my best friends, so it was a very good decision,” Yerkes said.

Yerkes and Derdena explained the importance of troupe bonding activities and the value of the troupe itself.

“The better connection between members in the troupe, the better you are going to perform,” Yerkes said. “It’s all about communication and really trusting each other, so we spend a lot of time just hanging out as friends.”

Derdena said that the troupe is a chance for laughs and memories with peers.

It was hard for BBQ Kitten to practice and perform last year as the pandemic was not improv-friendly, leading the troupe to host their shows and weekly rehearsals virtually.

“Let me just say, improv over Zoom is taxing,” Derdena said. “Improv is all about creating an inside joke with your audience, so not having a physical audience to interact with took away so much of what makes the art.”

Now that the troupe is in-person, they are moving full steam ahead, and look forward to the return of similar deafening audiences as the one that gathered last Friday.

“This troupe is my family,” Yerkes said. “These people have given me some of my greatest memories of performing and laughing and making other people laugh.”

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