San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Iota Eta Pi’s improv performance, ‘Night at the Movies,’ delivers an entertaining, hilarious evening

SDSU’s long-form improv club presents their first show of the semester, highlighting their wild and impressive creativity
Illustration by Daisy Garcia

Improv — short for improvisation — is a form of performance where actors create scenes and dialogue on the spot, without a script, relying on their creativity, quick thinking and collaboration to adapt to impromptu situations. 

Now, what most people forget to mention about this type of performance is just how sore your jaw can be from the ceaseless laughter you’ll experience while watching. 

Not only is improv impressive, but it’s undeniably hilarious.

Nestled just off the side of the Hepner Hall courtyard, anticipation loomed in the air as a night of laughter awaited. This was not just any night — it was the first show of the semester for San Diego State University’s only long-form improv team, Iota Eta Pi. 

The classroom mirrored a small theater as students and adults with flowers in hand, gradually sprinkled into the room, growing into an impressive audience. 

“Iota Eta Pi’s Night at the Movies,” held on March 5, was displayed on the front stage alongside club members pictures — their favorite movie quotes and answers to what kind of film they see themselves as. 

The crowd was buzzing as Usher’s popular song, “Yeah!” came to an end. The host, Jordan Edens, made his way to the stage and established the tone for the night: chaotic, but in the best way. 

Wasting no time, Edens embraced the crowd and ran through a series of warm-up questions that would soon be an essential part of the night. With the true charisma it takes to be a host, Edens explained how “suggestions” from the audience will serve as a guide for the actors and drive these improv games. 

The night unfolded with a series of games that showcased the improvisational prowess of Iota Eta Pi. From fake movie auditions, where the genre was: “Thriller, but you’re going through a divorce” (courtesy of the audience) to knock-off documentary confessionals, the performers seamlessly transitioned between scenarios, each more absurd and entertaining than the last.

“The beautiful thing about improv is that anyone can do it,” Edens, a fourth-year biochemistry major, said. 

Edens joined Iota Eta Pi during his second year at SDSU and has since hosted around five shows. 

“It’s really unique how everything is original. Everything just comes up on the spot,” he said.

About halfway through the evening, a skit called “The Dating Game” brought unexpected hilarity as one member speed-dated three contestants, each chosen by the audience. 

The characters included Costco, a Dune sandworm and a person embodying despair. Right when you thought there was  no possible way this combination could work, it did, really well. The performers’ quick witty thinking and adaptability drove the crowd to screams and hysterics.

A standout moment came in the sixth game, where Kristen Slymen, a third-year business management student, took the spotlight. 

In a cleverly crafted sequence leading to a death scene, Slymen and her fellow improvisers skillfully performed an extended scenario, providing context to everything that transpired before this hilarious demise. 

With an improv scene this long, it’s easy to mistake it for scripted sketch comedy — but of course, every element was spontaneously created in real time, another remarkable aspect of improv. As Slymen raised her hand and repeated the infamous movie quote “I am your mother” (another suggestion from the crowd), she ended the game.

Slymen is a third-year business management major but has been acting since high school. She’s currently in the midst of her third year as a member of Iota Eta Pi. 

“Improv is definitely a creative outlet for me,” Slymen said. “My favorite moments are seeing different people join this club and build up confidence. Everyone is growing together and connecting because we’ve built some really strong friendships in this club. Seeing us all come together has been really special for me.”    

Before wrapping up the night with a game Iota Eta Pi calls “Garth,” they remained true to their “Night at the Movies” theme by including a few more cinematic games. The club’s topics ranged from film noir to a rollercoaster of genres, encompassing musicals, “Adam Sandler” and even Disney.

As the applause filled the room, it was evident that SDSU’s improv club had delivered an unforgettable night of laughter and camaraderie. Even as the actual performance was over, the stage was flooded with actors and audience members chatting and sharing their favorite moments. 

Iota Eta Pi has created a place for students to be as silly as they want without reservation or judgment.

“Improv is not easy, but it’s way easier than you think,” Addy Kneitel, a fifth-year political science major, said. 

Kneitel is the current president of Iota Eta Pi, although he’s quick to clarify that this is only by technicality — he serves as more of a co-captain with Brenna Martinez. 

“If you want to try it out, I really recommend it. Improvising is a muscle, you can exercise it,” he said.

Kneitel revealed the mechanics behind leading an improv club and giving a performance, such as this first show of the semester. It’s a lot of figuring out lesson plans, talking to other teams and scheduling when they can perform next. Sometimes it’s opening for improv clubs made up of SDSU alumni or in the backyard where some of the performers live. 

“I just like getting to be creative and make stuff with no restrictions,” Kneitel shared with a grin. “When I’m in improv, an idea instantly turns into something big. It’s really wonderful getting to create so easily.” 

Iota Eta Pi holds tryouts at the beginning of each semester, but they’re planning to produce more shows this spring. 

For more information about this club, and so you can find yourself laughing until you cry, follow them on Instagram

About the Contributor
Isabella Dallas, Senior Staff Writer
Originally from San Jose, California, Isabella is currently in her third year at San Diego State University. She is pursuing a major in Journalism, with a minor in Creative Writing. While starting her third year at The Daily Aztec as a Senior Staff Writer, Isabella has discovered her love for covering cultural events and topics with artistic aspects and aesthetic influences. She writes for the Arts and Culture section, where her favorite pieces focus on live music, pop culture, fashion, and differing lifestyles. She can also be found writing about TV, books, and her many other obsessions. When Isabella isn’t sitting at a coffee shop writing articles or reading a new book, you’ll find her devouring the latest issues of Vogue and Rolling Stones. Her only life goal is to one day interview Harry Styles—any leads are gratefully welcomed.