The stress of classwork and the rules of everyday life are quickly replaced by zany unpredictability when the Baked Bean Bois settle in to begin their warm-up. The Florida Polytechnic University improv troupe is finding comedic release while building friendships and gaining important life skills.
“I think this really helps people be able to present and know that after you do improv, you can do anything in front of people,” said graduate student Taryn Jones, who heads the group. “Having a moment to improv and be all these different characters, you get to not be yourself or you get to express some feelings through a different character, so you still get that emotional release.”
Jones, who performed stand-up comedy and improv comedy before attending Florida Poly, hosted a mini improv festival at Florida PolyCon 2019. The response was so positive that she decided to bring improv to the University in a more structured way.
After a period of being known as No-Name Improv, Jones realized the group needed a more memorable name. While laughing at the absurdity of the 2018 online trend of people posting photos of unexpected items filled with beans, Jones suggested Baked Bean Bois as a group name.
“Someone started dying laughing and I said that’s it. That’s the name,” Jones said.
The group currently operates in cooperation with the Media Club and is working to become a registered student organization. It records its improv sessions in the media lab to share them digitally with the University community and will begin hosting monthly improv workshops in the spring semester.
“I think a lot of people underestimate how important creativity can be,” said troupe member Ezekiel Huynh, a freshman majoring in computer science. “Technology, innovation, and invention don’t come from a void, and I think what Taryn is doing here is a great way to develop the kind of creativity and thinking needed to achieve that.”
Troupe member Andrew Crosswait, a junior majoring in computer science, said the rapid thought necessary for improv comedy can help in many other areas.
“You might use it in management, you might use it in coding. You would use it in all sorts of situations,” Crosswait said.
The camaraderie of an improv troupe is another big benefit.
“You can just walk in here and know we’re a family in a way,” said David Kozdra, a freshman majoring in computer science. “Students can just walk into a room of people here who care about them and who are not judging them.
“The fact that other students in your age group can just say ‘Hey, welcome. Sit down and let’s joke about stuff.’ That’s something I think a lot of people want but don’t realize they want.”
Director of Communications