Laughter echoed throughout the Henderson Campus Center on Sunday, April 3. The Campus was on the case, and this one was an easy crack.
The Egg Detectives, Allegheny College’s improv comedy troupe, performed to a packed audience in Grounds for Change. The show opened with one of the many games that the troupe plays on stage, “Poets,” where each improvisor mocks the construction of slam poetry by making one up from an audience suggestion.
This is one example of the games that the Eggs play as a way to facilitate their improvisation. Other games include “Ding,” a game where actors’ action and speech changes when a bell is rung. “Shakespeare,” is a game with a similar premise, where the diction of the scene becomes that of Elizabethan England when the proctor shouts, “Shakespeare!” There is also the Egg Detective classic, “Sex with me,” a game where actors begin with a word or phrase to make a joke, akin to “Sex with me is like peanut butter,” followed by an off-the-cuff punchline such as, “it is over in a jiffy.”
Suggestions from the audience are a big part of Egg Detective shows. According to Sarah Brammell, ’23, they allow for the Eggs to be “as spontaneous as possible” with their performances. A wide breadth of suggestions allows the troupe to pick what they think would be the most funny or the best suggestion for the game being played while keeping the audience engaged in the action.
“When it comes to picking a suggestion it comes down to who is on stage because certain people are better with certain suggestions,” Brammel said. “We have members who we give something very broad, (and) they take it and run with it … but some people like more (specific) suggestions.”
Indeed, the random chaos provided by the suggestions can be seen in how varied they are, ranging from the film version of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days” to “your mom” (both from the same audience member). Sometimes things do not always run smoothly however. Brammell commented on the self-described “crushing, humiliating failure” of their St. Patrick’s Day performance at The Sycamore.
“It hurts (in the moment) when you have an audience that is not laughing or is not engaged with you,” Brammel said. “It really depends on how people (in the audience) are feeling that day and how the troupe is feeling that day.”
Brammel went on to say how the show was hindered by the venue, as the acoustics of the space as well as the stage did not lend themselves to improv.
Ezra Glaser, ’22, noted the audience’s perspective.
“They did a great job adapting to the limitations of the space,” Glaser said. “I have enjoyed the show a lot. I have been to a few Egg Detective shows before and I really love how the performers bring the audience into the show. I love the collaborative nature of improv.”
The Egg Detectives are student-run and student-led, with all of the practices, traditions, techniques, and skills being passed down from generation to generation
“It’s like a game of telephone,” Brammell said.
It does not seem like this train of information will break anytime soon, as the Eggs just added four more new members to their ranks this semester. One of those new recruits, Madison Boring, ’25, shed some light on the process of becoming an Egg.
“So the existing members are on a panel when you show up for the audition, and they put you in a scene to practice with one of the already existing members,” Boring said. “They help you out and give you themes for a scene and they just see how well you do on the fly and teach you some of the games that they do in practice.”
Boring also commented on how the Egg Detectives was a way for her to get to know people that she otherwise might not have met, a sentiment that Brammell concurred with.
“Egg Detectives is a really good friend group I have made, (but) it is also something that I am really happy to give back to campus,” Brammell said.