By Grace Gavilanes, Assistant Features Editor
Three years ago, Hofstra 2010 graduate, Jackie Nese, started Improfstra, a campus organization devoted to improv comedy. Although this club is officially named, its members have recently deemed it as Tequila Mockingbird. "As far as I know, there's no specific reason other than that it's kind of clever and funny," said Jake Link, the troupe leader of Tequila Mockingbird.
The main focus of this improv group is for its members to showcase their talent and entertain audience members in their various troupe shows. Despite it being an audition-only troupe, Tequila Mockingbird offers improv workshops for students, regardless of their comedic experience or chosen major. "With workshops, we try to introduce people to improv with basic exercises. A lot of people at the workshops have never even done improv before, which is great! We're looking for anybody who's interested. We typically do these workshops most often at the beginning of the fall semester to prepare students for our audition process, which is competitive, but really very fun!" said Link.
Like any performance group, Tequila Mockingbird is dedicated in serving its audience members with free shows that cater to the desires of the audience. As part of a show opener, the cast of Tequila Mockingbird puts on a short improv presentation, relevant to the specific show, and then asks for suggestions from the audience, which can lead to a 25-30 minute routine, solely based off of one proposal. The show then continues its cycle of delivering audience-approved and suggested improv sketches. Recent shows have lasted an hour or less. Typically, Tequila Mockingbird puts on five shows a year; however, this year, the improv troupe has only performed two of the usual five shows. "We're making major changes to the format of our shows and it takes time for the troupe to get used to those changes," Link explains.
Link, along with Ross Greenburg, the co-troupe leader last year, made a major change to Tequila Mockingbird's improv shows by changing the normally short performances to more of a professional, long-form style of improv. The newly welcomed technique proved to be successful and enjoyable for both the audience members and the cast.
Excluding audience participation during the actual show, there is another opportunity for interested Hofstra students who want to get involved and become a member of the improv troupe. "Anyone is welcome to audition for our troupe at the beginning of the fall semester! It's pretty competitive since there are a maximum of 8 total spots on the troupe, but our audition process is very fun and low pressure," Link shares.
What sets Tequila Mockingbird apart from most clubs on campus is its mascot–a large, sassy chicken named Atticus Finch, who can be found on Facebook. "Since our name is Tequila Mockingbird, he has struggled with identity issues in the past, but he's getting better," Link says. As for official club meetings, Tequila Mockingbird does not have any—with the exception of the cast's frequent rehearsals, held in an attempt "to stay fresh."
Tequila Mockingbird's next free show will be on May 6 at 8 p.m. in the Cultural Center Theatre. Be sure to check them out, as well as their interactive fundraisers which consist of scavenger hunts and races.