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Student comedy group to sketch out new performance

The University of Massachusetts’ student sketch comedy group, Sketch 22, will be performing Saturday night, October 17, at 8 p.m. in the Herter Hall Annex.

Sketch 22, which currently is made up of 12 members, performs self-written sketches at various events throughout the semester. The group holds voting meetings at the beginning of each semester, where everyone is required to write two full comedy sketches. Once a culmination of the sketches has been compiled, the members pick out at least 15 to make a part of their showcase.

During their first show of the semester, the group will be performing over a dozen of their comedic routines, which, according to student producer Peter Storey, are similar to the skits commonly aired on “Saturday Night Live.”

Although there are no pre-requisites to joining Sketch 22, a comedy group that is open to students from all of the campuses within the Five College Colloquium, auditions occur at the beginning of each semester. Storey assumes the group will be holding further auditions next February to expand their ranks. According to Storey, two members of the group are new as of this fall semester. At this point, all 12 members are UMass undergraduate students, although UMass alumni have been known to stick around Amherst another year, and continue their membership with Sketch 22.

While most students in Sketch 22 are theater or film majors, some of whom have continued on to work in theater or comedy post-graduation, Storey says the members are focusing their studies on a “hodge-podge” of majors, including biology.

Following this Saturday’s performance, the group will also be showcasing their talent at a Halloween special, alongside Improv with Attitude and Mission Improvable. Sketch 22 is also usually involved in Improvathon, which, according to Storey, was formerly a fundraiser, and is now simply a fun event for comedians to enjoy. At the annual event, members from all three comedy groups test their limits to see how long they can perform for, with different sets and scripts. Storey says the Improvathon usually lasts around five to six hours.

Another annual event which Storey hopes to maintain is the Comedy Jam, which generally takes place during the spring semester. Professional comedians are hired to perform in accompaniment with Sketch 22, including a freestyle rap comedy group that attended last year’s show.

“The comedy jam would be the pinnacle,” said Storey, in regards to the most interesting show that Sketch 22 has participated in.

Before each show, Storey says the group goes through technical details, dress rehearsals and running lines. Since most members of Sketch 22 have been participating in theater productions since high school, it is unusual for students to get stage fright before a show.

“We are pretty well prepared. We have a few games we play [before going onstage], there’s a lot of shouting,” said Storey. “The atmosphere is just intoxicating. It’s a great feeling when the audience starts to file in.”

“I think we put a hell of a show together, and I’m proud to be affiliated.”

Elyse Horowitz can be reached at ebhorowi@student.umass.edu.

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