Hot Tea Improv: UVU’s own improv team

Hot Tea Improv. Photo by Will McKinnon.

Enjoy the hilarity and creativity of Hot Tea Improv, UVU’s own improv team, by attending one of their night shows. Thirteen strong, the members of Hot Tea Improv are either currently taking or have taken the advanced improv theater course, playing improv games and taking inspiration from audience members during their performances. This inspiration could be anything from “coleslaw” or “golf” as team members link words to personal anecdotes or break out into impromptu musical numbers. 

Joseph Campbell, in his second year on the team, said, “[Improv] is probably the most creative thing you can do besides stand up comedy but, like it’s so satisfying, creatively, because you’re making it up on the spot, and [the audience] knows that it’s made up on the spot, but like that’s a beautiful energy like just be creative, be yourself and just let it happen.”

A few sly notes from the keyboard during a skit cues team members to begin an impromptu musical number. Using music to describe their circumstances, songs could be about anything from being a duck mother, to a rock who sings with his friends Splinger and Fungus about living in a shoe. When every moment could become an impromptu musical number, how do the improv members know what to sing? 

Duncan Johnson, a member of the improv team said, “We don’t know, we never know what type of music is going to pop up; it all depends on what’s going on at the scene. Like that last scene I performed was Indian music, and honestly I did not expect that to happen. So it’s just like any other form of improv, you just think of it on the spot. Whatever happens, happens, and the pianist, if they’re a great pianist, like Matt over here, they will follow you.”

The keyboardist of the improv team, Matt Oviatt, a senior at UVU, said, “I am [a] very socially anxious person, rather anxious person in general. I’ve definitely noticed a change in me over the past three years in doing this. . . to be comfortable with myself, to be okay with any mistakes, to feel okay if I goof up or if something falls flat on its face, like it’s fine, it’s part of the fun.”

Hot Tea Improv at ComedySportz earlier this year. Photo by Hot Tea Improv.

When asked about improvising musical numbers, Hallie Purser, another member of the team, said, “It just gives you so much confidence to just get up and sing a song. Just like singing the words that come out of your mouth, like even if they don’t make sense, just saying them. Sometimes you fall flat on your face, and it doesn’t work out, but sometimes it’s like ‘oh! I got that one!’ And it kind of just like gives you the confidence to keep going.”

Confidence is key when it comes to improv comedy. Kathy Frye, a theater major on the Improv team, shared her experience about how improv impacted her life. 

“I’m somebody that used to be very afraid of failure. I mean, I discovered that to do improv, you have to accept the fact that you’re going to fail a lot, and that’s okay. You learn doing improv that when you fail it doesn’t matter as much as you think it does, and so it’s really helped me get a lot more confident in my abilities as an actor and my abilities as just a person, and realizing that it’s okay to fail, because, I mean, if you fail, you know you failed, everybody else knows you failed, and then we move on,” said Frye.

Improv comedy is the invitation to try something new. When asked why people should get into improv, Campell said, “Do Improv man, always do improv. Find a group, be creative, and have fun with it. Always have fun with it, and if you don’t have fun with it — don’t do it, I guess.”

Hot Tea Improv is scheduled to perform on December 5 at 7:30 p.m. Center Stage, UVU campus. Upcoming shows are TBA and will be announced on Facebook as well as Instagram [email protected]

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