By Sarah Dilworth
Students gathered at the mall in front of Mckeldin Library last Friday to watch the first in-person comedy show on campus since the beginning of the pandemic.
While sitting in bubbles painted six feet apart on the lawn, students followed social distancing guidelines and watched UMD’s only all improv comedy group Erasable Inc. perform their first Friday show of the semester on Sept. 25. Many joined bringing blankets and lawn chairs as the group played some familiar games that haven’t been seen since pre-pandemic days such as “Sex with Me” and “Pan Left Pan Right”.
Laughter filled the expansive lawn during the game “Eulogy” as senior Sammy Garcia faced alternating boos and cheers while guessing what fictional character’s funeral it was. Even though both the audience and Erasable Inc. members wore masks to keep each other safe, it was obvious that hidden underneath each one was a smile.
“Performing with a mask is an interesting challenge, but certainly not one that you can’t overcome. I think it just has to translate into other things, projecting more and using your physicality more because you don’t have all of your face to express, and you don’t have all of your voice since it’s a bit muffled,” said senior Stephanie Moy.
With the extra space to perform in, the group ran all over the steps of Mckeldin, where students used to sit months ago. In one scene, Garcia moved towards the library as he pretended to be an astronaut floating further into space while members Joshua Choi and Grant Yang struggled to communicate with him at the imaginary space station in the grass. The group has never been one to shy away from exploring their surrounding area despite any strange looks from bystanders nearby.
Along with the excitement of performing in-person again, the group had concerns over how safe they could make things for their audience. The most important factor for them was making sure that students felt comfortable rather than being put at risk.
“We love what we saw today. First off, it makes the crowd look huge. It also takes a lot of guilt off my shoulders because we thought like ‘is this irresponsible holding this show?’ but seeing everyone so spread out, it definitely felt safe for sure,” said Garcia. “Now that we have masks and now that we have all these rules and regulations, we did our homework beforehand, and these circles really actually helped us a lot.”
While Erasable Inc. usually has several special shows throughout the semester including one for Halloween, they are still exploring ways to continue their traditions safely. With a current member unable to join on campus, they are looking to new forms to entertain virtually as a full group.
“Right now, we’re definitely not sure what the future holds. But we’ll keep everyone posted and we’re every day trying to find new ways to present our improv in innovative and safe ways,” said Moy.
During uncertain and nerve-wracking times, having a way to sit back and enjoy some lighthearted comedy can mean everything for those who crave the social interactions we once had. The return of in-person comedy shows brings hope for the future of all entertainment.
Erasable Inc. performs every Friday at 1 p.m. in front of Mckeldin Library.
Featured Photo Credit: Sarah Dilworth/Bloc Reporter.
Sarah Dilworth is a senior multi-platform journalism major and can be reached at SFDilworth@gmail.com.