July 23, 2019 | 68° F

Comedy group showcases talent at Rutgers

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The College Avenue Players bring students together to practice comedy routines in front of the University community. The players allow aspiring comedians to gain some experience while at Rutgers.

Aspiring comedians and comedic writers can practice their trade with the College Avenue Players, a performance group that creates sketches for the Rutgers community throughout the year. 

The comedic performing arts group welcomes anyone who wants to take a swing at writing, directing or performing— whether they are engineers or theater majors, said Victoria Corbo, co-publicist for the group and  a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.

“We kind of encourage that this isn’t some big scary theater or scary audition. It’s a really relaxed, friendly atmosphere. We’re a huge family. We just like hanging out with each other,” Corbo said.

Throughout the year, members can audition for multiple performances that often run back-to-back, she said.

For those who are not interested in performing on the main stage but still want to be involved, the organization holds improvisation and sketch writing workshops.

College Avenue Players Held in Captivity, a subset of the organization, is completely dedicated to improvisation performances, said Diego Perez, the president of CAP and a School of Arts and Sciences junior.

During the fall semester, CAP performs one sketch comedy show and two main stage productions, Perez said. Spring semester follows the reverse format, with two main stage productions coming out first, ending with a sketch comedy called "Wacky Hijinks," he said.

The fall performance is "Comic Relief," which is a collection of sketches from popular comedy shows, such as "Saturday Night Live. This production is the largest, and one of the best of the year, drawing large crowds and kicking off the semester in a positive direction, Perez said.

“I think ('Comic Relief') was the most exciting to work with because you have a group of 30 comedians, and it’s so different to work with 30 funny people who have their own minds. It’s so wonderful to see when the lights go on and see what these funny people can do onstage,” Perez said.

On Nov. 18 and 19, “12 Incompetent Jurors”, a parody of “12 Angry Men” will be performed, while “Don’t Talk to the Actors” will debut in December. 

Despite being active for more than 20 years, CAP does not have a permanent space on campus to perform, Perez said.

“We just don’t have much to work with. Our own prop closet is that hidden room behind Scott Hall 135 and when we don’t even get that room, it’s so frustrating,” Perez said.

Because of the lack of space, Corbo said practicing for upcoming shows is an uphill battle.

“The room is a huge thing because we can’t have any permanent sets, because we have to take them down after every rehearsal,” Corbo said.

Actors practice in classrooms when they can not secure the lecture hall, and work extremely hard to hold on to the space. Holding onto their small space is critical to their performances, as board members need to reserve an area on campus before they can license a main-stage show, Perez said.

The club is important to its members because it is a niche group that allows comedy writers and actors who are just starting out get some experience, said Johnathan Lerman, a Rutgers Business School sophomore and the CAP artistic director.

“It’s important for us, the kids in it, because all of us are really interested in comedy," he said. "(Students) can join us and have fun with us because it’s not the most serious thing."

Many students have found their own community in CAP, and the bond that comes with pursuing their shared interest, Corbo said.

“I think comedy is a very good outlet for ... there’s times when, you know, we just want to have fun and be happy. Especially in certain times when things aren’t happy, and gloomy, just go see a CAP show and we’re certain that you’ll definitely have a good time,” Perez said.

Angelisa Cunniff is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in journalism and media studies. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.

Angelisa Cunniff

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