There isn’t anything about the Stearns meeting room that makes it stand out from all the other meeting rooms in the Titan Student Union at Cal State Fullerton. But it isn’t the meeting room that defines or characterizes Funny People Society, it’s the people.
With their big quirks and even bigger personalities, Funny People Society’s members take away the blandness of the room they meet in every Wednesday from 1 to 2 p.m.
Recently founded this fall, FPS is an improv and comedy club that strives to bring together a community of people who know comedy, or those who would like to learn it and perfect their skills as comedians and improv actors.
One of the club’s goals is to teach the art of comedy, said Shane Geller, president and founder of FPS. Ordinary clubs may start with discussion, but FPS is anything but ordinary. Ordinary clubs may start with discussion, but FPS begins with a playing with a game.
Jesus Sanchez, a club member, remembers a time there was an improv club, but then it disappeared. FPS starts every meeting with a warm-up game such as “Freeze.” In this game, two people act out a scene until another member of the club yells “freeze!” to which the scene and the actors freeze.
The person who yelled “freeze!” replaces one of the actors already performing and begins a new scene. Scenes can range from odd exorcisms and taking over Wal-Mart, to getting a finger stuck in a hole in the wall. All games are meant to emphasize the important aspects of an improv scene. “It focuses on character development, situational change, environmental interaction and just chemistry between characters,” Geller said.
There are other games such as “Human Props,” where actors physically become the props needed for the scene, and the “Dating Game,” which imitates a live dating show, but with contestants who are either strange or extraordinary, as opposed to just regular people.
The club members go through each game effortlessly, switching in and out of unscripted scenes with ease. But there is always room for improvement. These games allow members to enhance their improv skills by receiving constructive criticism from peers, Geller said.
Aside from creating a fun environment, improv and comedy are therapeutic for some. The stress of schoolwork, jobs and other existential crises fades away as FPS club members throw their lives into the scenes. “Throughout high school, I used improv as a way to de-stress myself,” said Briana Marquez, an art major.
FPS offers each member the opportunity to hone their acting abilities. The better they are at improvising scenes and adding their own comedic flairs to a set, the better they are at entertaining an audience. But it isn’t all just fun and games. There are business aspects to the club as well. In between the games, Geller leads FPS through decisions about uniforms, scheduling time and setting dates for upcoming shows.
Right now, FPS is a small club with 11 members, but what they lack in numbers they make up for with enough imagination and personality that can turn a small conference room into a large, rollicking theater.
“In playing pretend, you have to have that big imagination,” Geller said. “You can just acknowledge the fact that even if it’s not real, you can make it real.” FPS’ first improv show is scheduled for Dec. 11 from 6 to 8 p.m. at CSUF. To learn more about the club, visit FPS’ Facebook page.