Students find relief in comedy on campus

Catherine Cardenas

Getting a laugh out of an audience may seem like a challenge to master for some, but for students in the Har-D-Har improvisation troupe, it’s their weekly therapy. 

Luis Frasson-Nori, supply chain management senior, founded Har-D-Har in spring of 2017 and has seen membership grow from just three students to over 20 in the course of his time at UT.

Frasson-Nori said he originally started doing improv in high school to impress a girl he had a crush on.

“When we started Har-D-Har my freshman year, I only knew the basics, but now it takes up a good part of my life,” Frasson-Nori said. “It’s become a much bigger part of my life than trying to impress a cute girl.”

Now Frasson-Nori said he uses it as a way to escape the normality of being a business student and step outside of the box others put him in.

“In the business world, we’re kind of expected to do (our) job and go home and not bring your whole self to work,” Frasson-Nori said. “Improv allows you to bring your whole self.” 

English sophomore Emily Froelich said after she realized she liked public speaking in high school, despite being more introverted in classes. Improv was a natural next step. 

“I really like the spontaneous sort of reactions that take place in improv,” Froelich said. “The connections and the chemistry you have with other people on stage is going to result in a scene that’s never been done before and will probably never
happen again.”

Froelich said she prefers improv over stand-up because of the more relaxed nature of improv.

“I worry that whenever I write jokes, it may be funny to me, but if I tried saying it to a group of people, it wouldn’t work,” Froelich said. “With improv, it’s a lot more laidback. I like bouncing off these manic ideas with my friends.”

Sociology senior Jacob Rodriguez said part of the fun in improv is the unplanned nature and dynamic of the performance. 

“Improv is a lot more forgiving than stand-up because with stand-up you have to have material, and it has to be good,” Rodriguez said. “If it doesn’t get any laughs, it’s because it’s not good, or you didn’t deliver it correctly.”

Frassoni-Nori said the inspiration behind improv scenes tends to come from current life experiences, and stand-up tends to derive from crazy personal stories. 

“(The show being) grounded in the reality of our lives, as it’s happening now, allows for better comedy,” Frasson-Nori said. 

Despite the competitive element that normally exists within comedy, Frasson-Nori said the troupe couldn’t care less about competition — they’re just there for the laughs.

“There are teams that win and teams that lose, but no one cares,” Frasson-Nori said. “The point isn’t winning, it’s having fun. That culture attracts a certain group of people that just doesn’t exist, in my experience, anywhere else on campus or in any other group I’m involved in.”