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8th Floor Improv welcomes back alumni for latest stand-up show

A love of improv and comedy, and even a dream of pursuing a career in comedy, that developed from the 8th Floor Improv Comedy Group connects many current and past members of the Ohio State student organization.

On Saturday night, many of those current and past members will reconnect in the 8th Floor Improv Comedy Group Alumni Show and perform together, in a show jam-packed with various improv sets and other small comedic acts.

Will Thornton, a fourth-year in public affairs and the organization’s president, said the show will feature a series of four long-form improv sets, lasting 20 minutes each and inspired by only a one-word suggestion. The four teams will each feature a combination of alumni and current members.

He said the group had successfully put on the alumni show for several years.

“Everyone who’s in the group cares a lot about it, so it’s really nice that we’re able to do it because so many people want to come back,” Thornton said. “Most of the time there’s more alumni than current members there.”

Many alumni who travel back to perform are currently pursuing comedy careers in cities like New York City or Chicago, so their willingness to come back to Ohio State and perform for the student body here means a lot to the group, Thornton said.

Claire McCarthy, who graduated in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in strategic communication, is returning for the show this weekend. She is currently living in New York City, working as an account executive at Yelp, but ultimately pursuing a career in comedy.

The 8th Floor Improv Comedy Group was the best experience of her college career, McCarthy said, so she’s thrilled to make the trip back for the show.

“I remember when all the alumni would come back and play [improv] with us and teach us things like workshops, it was always really, really special, so I want to be able to come back and do that for the current members,” she said.

Mark Hale Jr., who graduated in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in theater, also will be performing in the show. He remained in Columbus after graduation and does theater and comedy full-time.

Hale Jr. joked that the 8th Floor Improv Comedy Group was his “unofficial major” because being involved opened so many doors and connections for him that ultimately helped his career in theater and comedy.

He has performed in previous alumni shows and said his favorite part of the experience is seeing the rise in talent among the group.

“It’s always a blast to go back and just see how much farther the group has come since I started in it. There’s a running joke with any alumni that if we were to audition for the group now none of us would get in because it just keeps getting better,” he said. “The chance to come back and see that it’s in such good hands is amazing.”

The alumni show is in the U.S. Bank Theater in the Ohio Union at 8 p.m.Saturday. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and attendance is free.

“We put so many different people up onstage, you just get to see people doing comedy who were at OSU as far back as 2004 all meshing together to create a very good show,” Thornton said.

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