Vanderprov — a community for comedy 

Author: Isabella Spry

On November 5th, around 10 p.m., Hope College’s Vanderprov met for their third show of the semester. The team consists of 10 Vanderproveians who played a series of improv games. Crowd participation was encouraged and viewers roared with laughter throughout the show. {I was able to meet with Vanderprov’s President, Joel Scheneman, to dive more into Vanderprov

Joel(24’) is a Senior who has been a part of Vanderprov since his Freshman Year at Hope. An engineering major, Joel was drawn to Vanderprov because his brother was involved as a senior when Joel started at Hope College. Being involved in theater during his middle and high school years, Joel wanted to find something similar at Hope College. Since being involved in the Theatre Department could be a large commitment, Joel looked to Vanderprov.

Started around 20 years ago, Vanderprov is Hope College’s Improv Club. Joel stated that, as a club, “We want to provide a space for people to relieve stress and express themselves, and provide opportunities for theater as an art form that is not affiliated with the theater department. It’s free fun entertainment and a chance to grow community.”

He then shared Vanderprov’s Organizational Statement: “Regardless of the individual Vanderprovian’s political or religious standing, Vanderprov is held in the light of being a fun, stress-relieving space for its members. In our silly space, we do our best to not just be funny, but to make smart and well-crafted comedy hence why we rehearse twice a week. We hold a firm stance that students are welcome to be part of our team regardless of gender identity, sexuality, or religious belief….” -Vanderprov Statement

So how exactly does Improv run? Joel explained that Improv is very easily molded. The model for any scene is the acronym CROW: Character, Relationship, Objective, and Where. Once these four are established, creativity is free-flowing. Joel also expresses that the first rule of Improv is the “Yes, And?” mindset. The goal of improv is to keep building on a scene, so it is important not to cut off a fellow actor. 

Improv is difficult, so Vanderprov strives to create a healthy and positive space where participants are encouraged to grow and openly discuss their “missteps, strengths, and weaknesses in any given scene”, as reflected in their mission statement. The group meets twice a week for an hour each to practice their improv, get to know each other, and simply grow in the community.

 For those interested in joining Vanderprov, the group would love to meet you! Although it is past time for this year, they always have a booth at the Student Activities Fair and advertise with posters in the fall. Auditions are in September and, as Joel stressed, are informal and light. It’s a time for the group to get to know the auditioner but playing a few improv games and chatting. If you’re interested, give it a try! When asked what his favorite thing about Vanderprov was, Joel said “Community. The team is pretty tight, we’re all very close. We want to get better at Improv but also have a safe, loving, and uplifting group. It’s a place to grow in improv and as people. It’s something special I couldn’t get somewhere else.”Similarly, Jayme Noll (26’) expressed “I love vanderprov because it’s a second family. It’s almost an excuse for us to just goof around on stage in front of an audience. And the best part about it is that I always walk into practice or a show, and I know that I’m going to laugh.” Through its members, we can see how impactful the Vanderprov community is.

Vanderprov tries to perform shows at least once a month, although Joel said that they were hoping to do at least two shows a semester starting next Spring 2024 Vanderprov’s next show is November 19th at 2 p.m. in the Schaap Auditorium. They also hold a show following Hope College’s classic Christmas Brinner. Stay tuned for more details near the end of the semester.

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