With a mug of tea in one hand and her legs crossed pretzel-style beneath her, Rachel Dranoff ’16 sat in her living room smiling while she told me about her involvement in Monkapult, the campus’s stand up comedy, and summer plans.
The junior from Oak Park, Illinois, joined Monkapult during fall quarter of her sophomore year. After a year and a half of attending Monkashop, during which the improvisation group opens the practices up to anyone, she officially joined the group during the fall of her sophomore year.
“I would just sit there in the back because I was too scared to participate. But they pulled me into a skit and encouraged me to try out,” Dranoff said. “I kind of did it on a whim.”
Now, she hopes to continue to be part of the group as long as she can.
“Improv is an art. Comedy is an art,” Dranoff said. “Just like basketball is a sport, improv is a comedic expression.”
Although she didn’t have the craft going in, she said that she has learned it, along with the skills, while participating in Monkapult. Dranoff added that her experience in the improvisation group has helped her gain confidence.
I watched her smile, exposing all her teeth and, and giggle while she told me “You get to hang out with people and just be goofy… It’s fun.”
The Monkapult member wants to improve at jumping into a character “with conviction.”
In just a few years, Dranoff went from having taken one acting class in high school, with only a two-week exposure to improvisation, to being accepted to the Comedy Studies Program hosted by Columbia College Chicago and The Second City Training Center in Chicago. This 6-week program includes courses entitled Creating Scene through Improvisation, Physical and Vocal Training for Comedy, History and Analysis of Modern Comedy, and Writing Comic Scenes.
Dranoff heard about the program from former participants Jack Massion ’14 and Katie Lee ’16, and decided to apply.
“I’m kind of a comedy nerd so I am interested in that stuff anyways, but to take a class on the history of comedy is like my dream,” Dranoff said.
Watching Dranoff cracking jokes with her housemates and coming up with witty answers on the spot made it difficult to picture her as a shy sophomore sitting at the back of a Monkashop, unable to get herself to join the skits. When I asked her about this, she responded, “It is very scary at first, but I got past that, and other people can too.”