Columbia comedy team wins regionals

By Amanda Murphy

With the motto “We make your tummies hurt,” it’s no surprise Droppin’ $cience, Columbia’s student comedy group, swept the finals of the Chicago Regional in the National College Improv Tournament.

The group of 10 Columbia students beat out 11 other teams, including last year’s winner, Northwestern’s Titanic Players, for the chance to compete at the February nationals in Chicago.

“It’s extremely exciting because we’ve done this for about three or four years now, and each time we have never even

placed,” said Shannon Noll, team captain and senior theater major. “This is a huge opportunity for us.”

The competition took place at ComedySportz Theatre, 929 W. Belmont Ave., on Jan. 22 and 23.

According to Ryan Barton, co-captain and junior film and video major, there were 96 teams in the regional competitions from around the country. Droppin’ $cience made it to the top 10 out of 12 national finalists.

“It’s bigger than the Chicago Improv Festival, which is very well known,” said Barton, who is co-captain with Noll.

Droppin’ $cience formed approximately five years ago. Barton, who joined during the group’s second year, said the team has changed much since it started.

“When I came in as a freshman in [the group’s] second year … it was crazy and cluttered,” Barton said. “Finally, last year, we got a little bit more grounded and became a really good team.”

In addition to competitions, Barton said Droppin’ $cience is able to do weekly shows at the comedy theater Studio BE, 3110 N. Sheffield Ave. The company they work with is PH Productions, which has a program that reaches out to college improv groups. The company provides teams like Droppin’ $cience and DePaul University’s Cosby Sweaters with coaches and the chance to perform on Thursdays at Studio BE’s college night.

Kenny Metroff and Amy Couey are the two coaches PH Productions provides Droppin’ $cience. Metroff said he is excited for the team’s success.

“The fact that they were able to put everything together for two straight shows and impress the judges … proves the progress they’ve made this year [and] over the time I have directed them,” said Metroff, who has coached the team for the past two and a half years.

Metroff, who is also involved with Second City, said he is proud of how hard the team has worked throughout the year on stage.

According to Barton, the team makes a point to be as playful as possible. The team practices long-form improv, which puts an emphasis on being more free and light-hearted with the humor.

“We have crazy high energy and [because] we know each other so well, we just like to mess around on stage,” Barton said.

Member Harrison O’Neal, junior television major, said those are some of the reasons the team won the regional competition. The group tried to focus more on having fun than on their performance structure, and it ended up working, O’Neal said.

The team will continue to practice and work until the national competition on Feb. 26.

According to Barton, the battle between the final college improv teams will be held in Chicago, the home of improv. They will face competition from states across the country, including Georgia, Washington and Massachusetts.

The team had a large amount of supporters at the regional competition and hope to see even more for nationals, Metroff said.

O’Neal said he is ready for the upcoming competition and wants to show what Droppin’ $cience can do.

“I think we have grown over the past couple of years, and this is definitely our year,” he said. “We are shining right now, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”