The An Excuse to Laugh student Improv group launched its fifth season with 10 performers, its largest group yet.
Founded in 2012 by Alumni Kate Johnson and Levi Penley, the troupe performs each week. Johnson and Penley were members of the troupe “This, That, and the Other” at Shorter University during their sophomore year before they both transferred to Reinhardt for the remainder of their college careers. During that summer Penley worked at an outdoor theater in Texas where he joined an improv troupe by the name of “Bonjour?”
“During that summer, I realized that I didn’t want to stop doing it [improv]. Ever.” Penley said. “So I called Kate and asked if she knew of an improv troupe at Reinhardt.”
Neither believed Reinhardt had an improv troupe, so they decided to start one.
“‘She said, ‘This is going to be awesome.’ And it was,” Penley said.
After arriving at Reinhardt, the duo announced auditions and formed an initial troupe of eight improvisers: Alumni Penley, Kate Johnson, Sophie Decker, William Mozingo, Troy Stephens, Austin Vann, and current students Nick Cothran and Parker Patzke.
The troupe initially performed under the name,”The Currently Un-named Improv Troupe,” until a permanent name could be found. That name was discovered accidentally during a pre-performance pep talk when someone said, “All we are is an excuse to laugh” and Penley responded, “Now we are, as always ‘An Excuse To Laugh.'”
The troupe recruits most members straight from the audience. People watch the performances and then inquire about joining where they find out the troupe is about more than performing, it’s a family.
Sophomore Chase Brackett, a newcomer to the troupe, said, “We’re all extremely encouraging to each other, and we know everyone has everyone else’s backs.”
Freshman Cole Kitchen thinks this family bond makes performing easier.
“You’re not forcing yourself to be funny. It’s like making jokes with your friends,” Kitchen said.
The troupe continues to develop each year.
“We’re learning a lot and growing. We go out and find new things so it’s always fresh,” said junior Josh Baldwin.
Formal auditions are held during the first month of Fall semester, but the group is always looking to add new members.
An Excuse to Laugh performs every Thursday at 10 p.m. in the Bannister Glasshouse, unless announced otherwise. Performances are free.
Written By: Jacob Howard: Photo Credits: Rachel Riley and Josh Robinson