Hello lovely people!!! I’m Jeff Angeloty the current Vice-President of OutRegis! You might have possibly seen my name pop up on a couple of other posts on this page, but now, Ladies and Gentlemen, you finally get to hear from me directly.
I’m currently a senior at Regis, majoring in Communication and minoring in Sociology. My task is to fill in y’all of the incredible performances that OutRegis! put on over this past semester, and possibly give some “hints” for next semester.
I’m thrilled to report that we have a fully functioning five-tiered cabinet set up with equal roles dispersed throughout the officers. I’m going focus on the sketch comedy aspect of OutRegis! in this update, so if you are looking for the juicy details about OutRegis! improv, you’re going to have to wait.
I had the wonderful opportunity to work with our faculty advisor Dr. Janna Goodwin on an independent study focused on the subject of sketch comedy, determining if certain styles of sketch comedy are an effective form of invitational speaking through their ability to interact with a variety of audiences. Through this Independent Study, I examined both OutRegis!(local) and Key & Peele(national) as forms of sketch that use invitational speaking to interact with their audiences through various forms of dialogue.
Invitational speaking is an idea of Communication scholars Sonja and Karen Foss. It refers to challenging the persuasive nature of a traditional rhetorical exchange. Since presentational speaking is commonly known for having a primary authority figure menacingly standing behind a podium, creating a one-way communication that expects no interaction between themselves and the audience, invitational speaking allows the presenter to openly interact with their audience and invites them and their own opinions and ideas into the conversation. Since I have been a part of OutRegis! since freshman year, I have keenly noticed how as a comedy ensemble, we invite our audience to participate in dialogue (a transformative process of communication) after every sketch comedy show.
If you have been reading the past posts to this blog, you would know that OutRegis! was originally created as a sketch comedy group, but more than that, we look to help bring to light invisible social structures, marginalization and stigma, and silenced narratives through our sketch comedy shows. Each show focuses on a marginalized group or a “scary” topic. We focus on our community, and do our prelim work with care, working with community members for months. Through the process of interviews, mini-dialogues, and storytelling, OutRegis! members create unique, and carefully constructed sketches that share a common theme. We perform the (hopefully hilarious, and often transgressive– after all, it’s comedy) sketches for an invited and public audience, then facilitate a dialogue. Judgement and pre-conceived notions are asked to take a back seat to peoples’ experiences: we focus on responses to the sketches, and stories.
We have worked with the Gender Student Alliance, Active Minds (Mental Health Awareness club), and most recently with the sexual/relational violence prevention office to create sketch comedy shows that invite the audience to see other perspectives not commonly seen or thought about before. With about three weeks of preparation, just this past semester, we held a small sketch comedy show in conjunction with It’s On Us Week, a week to spread awareness about dating/sexual violence. Our brief show consisted of original sketches by OutRegis! members and Dr. Goodwin (who also directed the show). Even with an awkward start time on a Monday night, we still had a great turnout for the show and great response during the dialogue.
Moving beyond OutRegis! in my research for the independent study, I looked at the wildly popular sketch comedy show Key & Peele. It constitutes, in a way, a form of national invitational speaking, since it reaches millions through their shows with online content that allows viewers to comment openly about topics/ideas raised in their sketches. For those of you who don’t know: both Keegan Michael Key, and Jordan Peele are bi-racial comedians who were on MadTV back in the 2000’s. Their show includes a variety of sketches, the most popular of which are all based on send-ups of African American culture, perceptions of that culture, and race relations. A good percentage of their sketches from the TV airing are posted to YouTube every week, and can be openly commented on by viewers.
After weeding out the online trolls, I found some insightful exchanging of ideas appearing in the comments that the video invites. With over 200 million YouTube hits on their page, Key and Peele are producing material that is uncommon in Hollywood, inviting audiences to participate in interacting with their sketches by allowing open comments, and letting the public express their views on touchy subjects. They are producing a brand of underlying social commentary comedy that, I argue, strives not just to entertain but to transform their audiences–transformation being the goal of invitational rhetoric and of dialogue,
I presented my comedy study to members of OutRegis! before rehearsal one night–an interactive timeline of sketch comedy from its origins in the 1850’s to present day, hopefully reminding our group to stay aware of the origins of this form of entertainment, and even to explore some older styles not commonly seen today.
The OutRegis! ensemble is quite special and unique among college sketch groups in the sense that we take the sketch comedy as entertainment but further, in the Ignatian spirit, ask it to also inspire reflection and social change. Playfully, with laughter at ourselves, we invite our audiences to find common ground with one another. Thanks for reading and keep an eye out for the second part of this update.
That’s it for now!