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On the Diag

By Alex Bernard, ’16


Read time: 3 minutes

Sam Francey, LSA Student

What are you doing on the Diag right now?
I am flyering for my improv show tomorrow night.

Your improv show?
Yeah, “Farewell to Rachel” with the Impro-fessionals.

So you do improv.
I do do improv.

How long have you done improv?
I’ve done improv for seven years now. I started as a freshman in high school.

How did that happen?
My sister, when she was a senior, her friends started an improv club at my high school, and they ranted and raved about it all the time. And I had done church plays, so I was like, “I’d love to try that! That sounds fun!”

I’m gonna pick out two key words from what you just said: “Church plays.” Explain.
Well, OK, my first role on the stage was in 1996. I was a lamb in the manger.

“In 1996”? Not “when I was 2”?
I like to keep my age ambiguous.

Like they’re referred to on IMDBb (Internet Movie Database).
Yeah, I’m getting a head start for the 10 percent chance I end up there.

OK, you were a lamb in a manger. What other church plays were you in?
One time, I played a mouse in a mouse-centric retelling of the Bible story. I played Linus in “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

What do you like so much about improv?
I just really like to laugh, and I like to make other people laugh. I like to do fun, random stuff. Like, growing up with my sisters, we would play pretend games that were really wild and had long, convoluted plotlines.

Could you give me an example?
Yes, I can! My favorite, favorite game I would play with my sisters was just called “Bamelia.” And I played the titular character, Bamelia.

One more time. Could you spell that?
Bamelia? I have no idea how they spelled “Bamelia.”

I’m just gonna say it’s “Amelia” with a “B.”
Yeah, something like that. But, basically, the plot of that was my family moved into this rich neighborhood, but I was poor. And my sisters—who played the hall monitors at the school—their names were like Victoria and Ashley, like very late ’90s, on-top-of-the world, schoolgirl names. And they just relentlessly bullied me. And so basically the whole plotline was they’d be mean to me, Bamelia. And I just had to field off these insults.

How do your parents feel about your improv? Have they ever seen you perform?
Yeah, my parents have been really, really supportive. Like I said, my sister did improv and theater and stuff in high school.

So she paved the way for you.
Yeah, and my mom directed church plays and was always involved in that. So it just made sense that her kids went into theater-y stuff. My parents come to my shows and laugh at all my jokes, even the really dirty ones.

Oh really?
Yeah, I actually think their coming to my college improv shows has helped me become better friends with my parents because they get to see the humor that I wasn’t allowed to say in high school.

There’s a certain power to being able to make your parents laugh by saying the F-word.
Yeah, yeah exactly.

Alex Bernard, ’16, is a comedy/fiction writer soon to be based out of Los Angeles.

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