Club Corner: the Hobo Army improv troupe


With its newly-elected executive board, the Hobo Army — an on-campus improvisational group — hopes to increase its membership and help reduce stress within the Lehigh community.

“Everyone understands what it’s like to be under a lot of stress and pressure,” former president Talia Dunyak, ‘16, said. “We all use improv as a way to relieve stress and to forge new connections.”

Matthew Schonberg, ‘18, the president of Hobo Army, said he appreciates the club because it helps members in many aspects of their lives.

“The club is really meant to bring out people in a social setting,” Schonberg said. “It’s a social form of acting. It raises confidence, and it is a time to make you laugh, but it also teaches you a lot about presenting clearly in front of people.”

Members of the club get to participate in long- and short-form games during meetings held twice a week on Thursdays and Sundays. Long-form games are more complicated, whereas short-form games are fast-paced, Dunyak said.

Schonberg said the objective of these practice sessions and games is to get people more comfortable with themselves and with others and to teach them the skills needed to be successful at improv.

“A lot of people think that improv is innate and in the moment,” Schonberg said, “but to get to that spot of being in the moment, it takes practice.”

Meetings are also held to make members familiar with the rules of improv.

Dunyak said the process of learning is one that is “repetition based.”

“There are also rules, but most improv rules are made to be broken,” she said.

One rule that is not meant to be broken is the “Yes, and…” rule. The point is to go along with anything that is said, Dunyak said. 

 “You don’t shoot it down or try to change it into something different,” she said.

Dunyak said participating in improv is a distinctive experience because it is exhilarating to not know the way a scene will play out.

Vice President Ally Abramson, ‘19, believes the club is unique because of its relaxed, inviting atmosphere.

“Everyone is a little different and we often see the humor in things,” Abramson said. “If you do something ridiculous, it’s funny as opposed to weird.”

Having just participated in the SteelStacks Improv Comedy Festival, the club is aiming to increase its number of performances, and perform as opening acts. The executive board also wants to have an increased presence on campus.

Students are encouraged to attend meetings as frequently or infrequently as they’d like.

“If you can only come once or twice a semester, we’ll still be here,” Dunyak said. “And every time you come, you’re adding to the group and making us better as a whole.”

Dunyak also explained students in attendance at performances are never forced to participate.

“The only thing we’ll make you do is a name game,” she said.

The Hobo Army’s next performance will take place on March 10 at 7:30 p.m. in Packard 416.

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