Pineapple Johnny Brings Comedy to Campus

Catherine Cinque , Staff Writer

Pineapple Johnny, the University of New Haven’s own improv group, got its start in the fall of 2014. It all began with a communications flyer asking students to audition for a remake of the television show Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Founder and president of the organization, Shonna Carlson, was one of four chosen to participate and was surprised there was no existing improv group. She took it upon herself to start one herself.

“I saw that there were students who had an interest that wasn’t being explored. I thought the school could use some more laughter and we as college kids definitely needed a way to make each other laugh on a regular basis,” said Carlson.

Pineapple Johnny joined the campus community as an official Recognized Student Organization in the winter of 2015. During one meeting at the start of it all, two words continually came up in their dialogue: pineapples and Johnny; thus the name was born.

Current Vice President, Mary Kate Kelly, explains how they normally handle the group when it comes to meetings, practices, and shows.

“The E-Board typically runs the meetings. Beforehand, we will decide what games we want to play or what skill we want to work on and go from there,” she said. “Our meetings serve as practices in itself, since you practice by doing! We also have a Show Group which involves students in the club who will perform in any shows we do.”

The group has already had quite a few shows in its short three years. They help to co-sponsor event and have worked West Fest in 2016 as well as MIC’s Fall Fest and Chi Kappa Rho’s Fashion Show last semester.

Carlson said the hardest part, “has been balancing between having fun and improving as comedians.” She clarifies saying that Pineapple Johnny is a safe place for people to laugh and de-stress but they do like to focus on refining their comedic skills.

The best way to improve, Kelly and Carlson both believe, is by just doing it. Practice makes perfect but with improv, since it’s situational, it can be hard to know what to do or say next. practices prepare them for anything that’s thrown at them.

Carlson is nothing but excited when it comes to handing over the reins and see someone else advance the club. Although she would like to see the group do more long form improv, she is happy as long as people are laughing.

“I hope that the club is always a place that students can go when they want to forget about all the stresses of college,” she said.