Talking Comedy: Danny Pogue on Being a Member of UCSB’s Very Own Improvability Club

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Cassidy Petroccione

Senior Staff

Friday nights at UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) are no longer just a prelude to the weekend. UCSB’s own improv group, Improvability, takes center stage, combining quick thinking with comedic minds.

This dynamic group of students (Emily, Anna, Teagan, Maria, Luka, Eli, Raaghav, Evan, Ethan, Danny, and music by Terry) transforms Embarcadero Hall into a palace of laughter at 8 p.m. every Friday during weeks two through nine of the quarter. Each week, Improvability introduces a new theme for their night of improv, keeping their audience eager with anticipation for what new comedic wonders will unfold. Improvability’s show promises not just entertainment, but an unknown journey, setting the stage for a laughter-filled escape from reality. 

Danny Pogue, a fourth-year UCSB student and two-year member of Improvability, sat down with The Bottom Line (TBL) to share his experiences as a part of the improv group and words of advice for fellow comedians.

TBL INTERVIEW WITH POGUE:

TBL: What is Improvability and what do you guys do?

Pogue: Improvability is an improv team that is a UCSB club. We put on shows in Embarcadero Hall every Friday. Our team hosts workshops on the weekend. 

TBL: Do people come to these workshops?

Pogue: Yes, people of all different levels show up. They learn some games and anyone who is curious about pursuing [improv] comes.

TBL: Have you done any improv before joining Improvability? 

Pogue: I did theater in high school. 

TBL: So you’re a theater kid?

Pogue: Ha! I wouldn’t say that I’m a theater kid, I definitely enjoy the improv games I did during theater. I was always trying to make people laugh. When I saw UCSB had an improv team, I decided to join during my third year here. 

TBL: How does your team come up with the themes for the quarter?

Pogue: We have brainstorming sessions that get pretty chaotic. There are ideas being thrown out and it’s crazy. Sometimes, we’ll use ones from years prior. 

TBL: Has one of the themes you suggested been used?

Pogue: Yes, the “Show and Tell” show had a nice sound to it. In our previous show, Eli [another member of Improvability] spearheaded the Dungeons and Dragons show. Also, the “Music Show” and “Nice and Naughty” shows are consistent each quarter. 

TBL:  What is your favorite theme?

Pogue: The “Music Show” because I like singing. The show gives me inner nostalgia from back in my theater days in high school. 

TBL: Do you guys play the same games every show? 

Pogue: We have a list of games we have played before, so we try to shake it up a bit for new themes. 

TBL:  How do you handle a situation when you can’t come up with something on stage?

Pogue: There are improv techniques you can hear if you are stuck: the three C’s. The best part about improv is that you can’t forget the lines because there aren’t any. You start to understand what character you are playing; the lines come naturally to you. You think about how this person would react. 

TBL: What happens when the audience doesn’t laugh?

Pogue: I see it as an opportunity to push even further in the direction of the story. If it didn’t make them laugh, it should at least progress the story. If you try so hard to be funny, you won’t be funny. You need to engage with characters and story to have something to attach to, and comedy comes naturally from there. 

TBL: Is it hard to be funny?

Pogue: I think naturally, as a person, I’m always trying to make people laugh. I try to make people laugh in everyday situations by waiting for an opportunity and living life normally until those opportunities arise. That’s when you can make your attempt at being funny. 

TBL: What advice would you give someone who wants to go into improv, or comedy in general?

Pogue: I don’t know if I’m one to give advice, but I’ve been doing standup and comedy for about two years. I am in the Laughology club at UCSB as well, which is open-mic. I want to pursue comedy after school, hopefully. 

TBL: Where are you from?

Pogue: Los Angeles. I hope to go back there, they have famous clubs. I think consistency is very important, and pushing your boundaries. Comedy isn’t always something that will go super well. So, you must be comfortable with the silence of not making someone laugh. My main advice would be try to make yourself laugh and have fun with it. I just have fun doing it!

TBL: What is your favorite performance and why?

Pogue: Last year, we did a musical show that felt cohesive where everyone was a distinct character. Afterwards, someone made a drawing of the cast and all of us in our characters. It felt amazing and solidified what that show was about; seeing it visually was crazy. I tapped into my imagination, which is hard to grasp up on stage. It’s really cool to go on stage and create a cohesive story that’s never been done before. There was another time during the “Naughty and Nice” show where we played a game called “changing channels,” and we had a great time up there. 

Whether you’ve gone to a show or not, UCSB’s Improvability is sure to have you gasping for air by the end of the night. Join the cast of Improvability for $3 for an adventurous time full of games, surprises, and laughs. 

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