Toolbox improv troupe brings holiday laughs

Newswire photo by Aidan Callahan | Ellie Coniff and Michael Rowlett performed long-form comedy along with the rest of the Toolbox improv troupe at their first show last Saturday.

The improv comedy troupe Toolbox performed its first show of the year last Saturday in the Arrupe Overlook.

The troupe had some trouble getting a show together earlier in the semester according to co-director Ellie Coniff, but was excited to begin their season with a holiday-themed show dubbed “A Full-Contact Christmas.”

To get into the spirit of Christmas, members wore holiday sweaters. To get into the spirit of “full contact,” they wore helmets and knee-pads.

Improv comedy is a form of performance where the performers don’t come with anything prepared. Rather, they rely on audience-driven games to guide the show.

In the first game, “Four Square,” four duos created scenes based on simple audience suggestions, such as the 1920s and snowballs. This is an example of short-form improv, where only a few members of the troupe work to create a short scene.

According to returning Toolbox member Max Carlson, Toolbox is distinguished from Xavier’s improv club Don’t Tell Anna through their use of long-form comedy. Long-form improv has the entire troupe working together to create a much longer story, using interconnected smaller scenes.

Audience member Peyton Wright also noted that Toolbox has a larger cast with a wider variety of ages amongst troupe members.

The majority of the Toolbox show was dedicated to a long-form game where each member told a personal Christmas story that the rest of the troupe then recreated. Things got ridiculous as members created stories ranging from a little kid who can’t stop breaking valuable bowls to old people stumbling upon a huge bag of drugs at a movie theatre.

Arrupe was packed with students eager to see the group’s return. Toolbox comes to the stage this year with a new energy, according to Coniff. Alongside returning members were three new members from the class of 2022.

First-year Ally Knizner had a blast auditioning for the group.

“I’d never done improv before,” Knizner said. “They sent a message in the theatre group chat and – me being a little go-getter – I gave it a try, and it was so much fun. I was so nervous though!”

To her surprise, Knizner made the group and found herself fitting right in with her fellow improvisers.

“It’s been amazing, everyone is so nice and welcoming. It’s been a really great community to be a part of,” she said.

Along with more first-years, this year’s Toolbox cast sports more female players.

“Me and Nora were the only girls in Toolbox for as long as I’ve been in it,” Eckerle said. “It was cool to have not only three (female) members, but also two new girls.”

New members have brought inventive ideas to the table, including new ways of advertising and some ideas that Carlson calls “under wrap” for now.

The show received positive reviews from Xavier students, including Jacob Smith.

“It was really funny,” Smith said before encouraging other students to come out to see Toolbox perform.

If you missed the show, be sure to watch for a full performance schedule of that Toolbox will share next semester.

Interested students can look forward to auditions to join Toolbox next year. You may have never performed improv in front of an audience, but neither had first-year Jo Dearman. After the show, she said her time with Toolbox has been “10/10, I’ve been loving it. It’s a great experience, I’d recommend it to anybody.”

By: Aidan Callahan | Staff Writer