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Happy Valley Improv Brings Comedy To State Theatre

In the theatrical heart of State College, Penn State economics professor and Happy Valley Improv co-founder James Tierney introduced the seven-member company to a packed State Theatre crowd on Monday night. Tierney provided some background about the State College-based group before a night of fast-paced comedy got underway.

Happy Valley Improv is a long-form improv comedy group with the goal of bringing quality improv to State College. The troupe was created in January of 2017 and lists four founders: Andrea McCloskey, James Tierney, Nathan Rufo, and Sam Tanner.

The first act of the night kicked off with a monologue inspired by the word “umbrellas,” which had been randomly shouted from the crowd. Following the Armando style of improv, co-founder Sam Tanner told a personal story that was (purposely) interrupted twice by a string of skits.

A Ph.D. student defending her dissertation about makeup? Only in improv.

The premise of this particular style is that while Tanner told the audience a story, the other performers were searching his monologue for inspiration. The resulting topics varied from burying the dead in plastic Glad containers to returning adopted children, and every part seemed to pack a punch and draw an eruption of laughter from the crowd.

Even an impromptu roommate fight broke out, which is a situation most Penn State students have probably experienced. This first act – in the Armando style – lasted about 40 minutes before the performers took a quick break.

Lee Erickson kept the “September Stories” theme going for the second half, telling a funny story about her teaching days. Erickson currently serves as the director of the Happy Valley LaunchBox, but talked about a time during her sixth-grade teaching career when she was mistaken by a lunch lady for a student.

Lee Erickson tells a story about her time as a sixth-grade teacher.

The second act continued on with a number of hilarious skits to close out the night. The nature of improv is something that’s hard to report on in written form given its pace and the random nature that makes it what it is, but you should certainly see it for yourself.

Overall, it was a great show. The members of Happy Valley Improv like to talk about bringing joy to the lives of others, and they certainly brought laughs to Monday’s audience. My favorite part about the show was the genuine happiness you could see on the faces of the performers and in their own laughs while watching their good friends up on stage.

For more information on Happy Valley Improv, you can check out their website here.

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About the Author

Derek Bannister

Derek is a senior majoring in Economics and History. He is legally required to tell you that he's from right outside of Philly. Email Derek compliments and dad-jokes at [email protected]


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