Behind the scenes with Vanderprov

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“YES, AND…” — Moments from Vanderprov’s first show of the semester back in September had the audience roaring.
(Photos by Kelly Ocock)

Last Thursday night members of Hope College’s improvisational team gathered in a classroom to hone their comedic craft. The team enthusiastically worked together through several improvisational games, filling the room with laughter.

Vanderprov has been a source of entertainment on Hope’s campus for many years now. The team recently gained new members and is looking forward to opportunities to perform and interact with the community this year.

Three new “Vanderprovians” were selected this year, including Jacob Peecher (’20), Johnny DeMaagd (’19) and Griffin Baer (’18). This brings the team to a total of 10 members, although two are studying abroad this semester.

“[The new members] have really good instincts and comedic timing,” said Abigail Peecher (’18), Vanderprov’s president.

Improv takes skills in imagination and includes building an entire comedic storyline out of a prompt. The new members bring specific improvisational strengths to the team. These strengths are some that the team is working toward having as a whole through the games that they play.

Jacob Peecher brings strong characters to the scenes and sticks with them consistently, according to Abigail Peecher.

“I think that Griffin is very witty. He knows how to make the audience catch on to what he’s saying and he has a good way of presenting himself,” said Matthew Schuiling (’19), the team’s manager.

“Johnny is really good at those little details in physical humor and he’s a very fun person to work with in a scene,” said Ben Douma (’20), Vanderprov’s public relations manager.

Throughout the practice, the team gave feedback and encouragement on different scenes. Various team members gave suggestions for improvement of technique for future reference. The new members blended easily into the rest of the group.

Although the team only includes one woman this semester, the dynamics are still very healthy. Peecher said that she does not feel forced into a stereotypical female role and that she does feel like she is on an equal level with her male counterparts.

The team faces a small challenge with two of their members returning in the spring. While this is not necessarily a negative, it will change the team’s dynamics halfway through the year. The adjustment will simply be similar to beginning again for the team, but the new members blend so seamlessly into the team that this should not be much of a challenge.

As for the team’s future plans, they hope to do more outreach in the community and at Hope. The team is talking about fundraising projects and going into schools to do workshops. The team wants to be able to give back while also using their talents.

Vanderprov is also making plans with the improvisational teams from Calvin College and Grand Valley State University to raise money for Good Samaritan Ministries. The team did a similar event last year where they teamed up with Calvin’s improv team and put on a show. People who attended the show put money toward their team of choice, and many alumni attended the dinner.

The Vanderprovians want to be more involved outside of their shows once a month because they find value in having fun by doing improv together.

“I think that improv is a really freeing thing, especially when you’re at a college trying to make sure grades are okay,” Peecher said. “Improv is where you’re allowed to mess up and you [don’t have to] think about school for five minutes.”

Stay tuned for news of upcoming improv comedy shows. If you want more information from the team, email Vanderprov at

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