BY LAUREN ORSINI
At an Undeniably Adjacent show last April, UMW senior Matt Czapiewski rode a friend around like a pony and experienced sexual confusion.
“Riding another man like a horsey gave me all sorts of jumbled up feelings in my insidey parts, which made it hard not to break character since the man I was playing also happened to be an eunuch,” Czapiewski said. But pretending to be a eunuch on horseback is the sort of situation the senior admits finding himself in a lot since becoming a member of the Undeniably Adjacent comedy improv team.
The Undeniably Adjacent is UMW’s only comedy improv team. The team practices comedy in the improv, or improvisational form, where they come up with characters and situations on the spot as they perform.
“We have a really good time doing comedy with each other. You can tell by watching a show how much we like each other,” said team member Rachael Wonderlin.
The team has always been based on these bonds since its origins during fall semester 2005. The original cast, auditioned by UMW alum and former director Ben Vigeant, consisted of seven students.
Now two original cast members remain: current team director Aaron Winston and secretary Melissa Falkenstern. They are joined by five other students: Czapiewski, Wonderlin, Kyle Dratwa, Hassan Abdelhalim, and Townsend Hart.
The name “Undeniably Adjacent” was suggested to former director Vigeant by his older brother, Fred Vigeant. Often fans found the name confusing and would question Vigeant about it.
“We’re adjacent to one another when we perform, and this fact is undeniable,” Vigeant would memorably reply.
Under Vigeant’s and now Winston’s leadership, the team has practiced comedy styles based on famous improvisation teams like the Upright Citizen’s Brigade of New York and the Second City of Chicago.
“It’s not anything like ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway.’ Though our style has changed overtime, we now do long form improv, where we receive a one word suggestion from an audience member at the beginning of our show, and do 45 minutes of sketches based on that,” said Winston.
“Our shows are like a party in your pants and everyone’s invited, except your pants are Combs 139,” Hassan Abdelhalim said.
The group performs two comedy shows biweekly every other Friday, beginning tomorrow, Friday, Sept. 12 in Combs 139. The first show begins at 8 p.m. and the second begins at 9 p.m. Each show lasts 45 minutes, with a brief intermission. All shows are free.
Even though Friday night is a party night for many UMW students, the Undeniably Adjacent never has trouble filling up Combs 139, and often have a full house with an audience of sixty or more.
“Our show is the perfect Friday night pre-game,” explained assistant director Kyle Dratwa.
“Because you’ll get drunk on laughter,” said Melissa Falkenstern, finishing his sentence.
Thanks to their “group mind” training, which allows them to respond to each other’s movement and ideas, the team often completes one another’s sentences. “Improv allows you to pretend to be people you wish you could be,” Hart said.
“And all the people that you’re glad you’re not,” finished Winston. The team stays close by practicing for two hours twice a week every Monday and Tuesday from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. as well as a weekly get-together at Waffle House. The team members agree that this closeness allows them to be more successful improvisers.
“Being on the improv team has more intimacy and less awkwardness than sex,” Dratwa said.
“Improv is the reason I have friends,” Hart said, who joined the Undeniably Adjacent last year. “Usually I struggle making friends, but doing comedy with each other breaks down barriers and makes it easy for us to be comfortable with one another.”
Other members of the team were also drawn to comedy for its social benefits.
“As a pale, anorexic, nerdy white boy I had to find something that would keep me alive in high school. I don’t think it’s unlike many other people who turn to comedy as a defensive mechanism,” Czapiewski said.
This friendly bunch is also looking for new teammates. According to director Winston, the team is holding auditions in Trinkle 204 on Monday and Tuesday September 15 and 16 at 9 p.m. Anyone who wants to join can also contact the team at the director’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
And though they have a steady fan base, the Undeniably Adjacent is always looking to increase their audience.
“Come to one of our shows, especially if you’ve never attended, and see if you like it. They’re fun and free,” Dratwa said.