Popular new improv comedy class builds student confidence, entertains


2nd Period Improv class participating in a game. Photo by Josie Robertson

Josie Robertson, Photo Editor

Walk by the Bailey Theater this semester and you’ll hear a cacophony of laughter and natural sound effects. Peek in and you’ll see students acting, playing games and improvising stories. Homewood’s newest elective is an improvisation comedy class led by the creative writing teacher, Amy Marchino.

Sixty-seven students signed up for this new course that has three class periods. Marchino ran an improv comedy club at the high school for six years and was asked to run a new improv program as well as continue to build the creative writing program. 

“I want to give everyone an opportunity to find their niche,” Marchino said. She aspires to build confidence in students who want another outlet to express themselves through writing and performance. 

Marchino graduated from Samford with a Bachelor of Arts in theatre. After being an actress for 10 years, she decided to get her teaching degree from The University of Montevallo. Her experience in theatre has helped her achieve improvisation skills to teach the class. 

Since the class first began this semester, Marchino is beginning with games and activities that introduce the students to important skills to master the art of improv. She is cherry-picking from a curriculum to establish basic performance aspects of improv so at the beginning of May, the students will have a showcase. 

One popular game played is “Presents.” The group stands in a circle, and one person pantomimes a present and gives it to the next person. The preceding person says “Thank you for…,” and says a random object or a person off the top of their head. Some examples said in class were “Taylor Swift” and “a severed head”! 

After playing, Marchino asks reflection questions to challenge the students on why these games help their improv skills. She asks the class “how does this game build our trust.” One of the first steps to honing your improv craft is being comfortable with the people in your group, she said.

Senior Sandy Holmes said “I’ve never felt like I got to know everyone in my class, but in improv I learn a lot about my peers.” Holmes has never been introduced to improv, however, as a dance captain of Homewood’s nationally recognized show choir, she has experience thinking quickly on her feet. Holmes is in the 2nd period improv class and said “it’s a great way to start my morning.” 

Marchino’s classes will participate in “Improv Olympics” at the end of the year to practice their performance skills and demonstrate what they have learned. Their performance will be open to the public.