By Darwin Manning
The group that many students rely on for much needed comedic relief is as strong as ever and will be welcoming an audience back with their first show of the semester today, Friday February 22.
Ritalin Test Squad, Grinnell’s older student improv group, represents many areas of campus and all grade levels, but focuses collectively on telling a comedic story that will grasp an audience’s attention.
The group lacks a hierarchical system, but they don’t lack traditions or cohesion. The group gains from each member’s ability to embody a variety of identities.
“It’s a very collaborative group of students in the art form and administrative tasks and it allows us to collaborate in different capacities,” said RTS member Elena Lynch ’13.
The group hopes to expand in their talents and fine-tune their diverse background of comedic skill. During practice, RTS aims to develop their skills with a variety of exercises and experiments. As members rehearse together with their various personalities, they find ways to truly collaborate.
“There are really unlimited possibilities for what we can do,” said Ishan Bhadkamkar ’13, a columnist for the Scarlet & Black.
“Improv makes one think that anything goes and to a certain extent that’s true, but it’s also true that we have find the best ways to collaborate,” Lynch said.
Grinnell’s Ritalin Test Squad accepts new members at the beginning of each academic year. Of course, they also respect seniority and the legacy that they try to pass down. This year, their hope is to refine skills so that they can be as comically strong as the past groups.
“There’s a responsibility to passing down skills and honing pre-existing ones,” Bhadkamkar said. “While the group has specific games, they also have a group memory and legacy that is important.”
One of these rich traditions, the 24-hour improv show, will be enacted on Friday, April 5 at 8 p.m. and last until Saturday, April 6 at 8 p.m. in Younker lounge. After the 24-hour shebang, the last show typically features a wet ‘n wild conclusion.
“In our final show, we have to do a scene where we dunk our heads in a bucket of water,” Bhadkamkar said.
The group cites many different sources for inspiration, including famous comedians. They look for appreciation for the art form and an ability to be a true storyteller.
“I really like Russell Peters; he is able to put together a story and make things that are mundane come alive,” Bhadkamkar said.
Meanwhile, others can find inspiration in their regular lives and how whimsical their cast of family members might appear.
“I find a lot of things in my own life to be really funny,” Lynch said. “I didn’t know that my own family was as ridiculous as they are until other people met them.”
The troupe is looking forward to their show this evening, followed by a show partnered with Conference Operations, March 3 at 8 p.m. in Bob’s, where admitted students can attend in order to obtain a sense of what social events there are at Grinnell.
“It’s to make admitted students get a sense of what being at Grinnell is like,” Lynch said. “It’s flattering that they considered us as something very Grinnellian.”