If one were to summarize the members of Sketchup, the University of Maryland’s comedy sketch group, in a few words, “playful”, “quirky”, or “ingenious” might come to mind. Upon entering a routine Sketchup practice session, one is immediately encompassed with warm greetings, friendly introductions, and a sense of how inseparable this spunky, incredibly talented group is.
Sketchup was born in 1996, after its two founding members were rejected from Erasable Inc, the University’s improv theatre group. All fifteen members were chosen after undergoing a competitive three-day audition process. This school year alone, over fifty students auditioned, and after callbacks, only five new members were admitted.
Noah Ferentz, a sophomore, first heard about Sketchup through his resident assistant, and after seeing his first show, knew he had to get involved with this group. “I try to spread happiness and laughter to others with Sketchup and it brings me joy knowing that I get to spend eight hours a week with my best friends doing things I love,” Noah says.
All sketches are original, student written pieces. After collaborating with other members to help develop the ideas and propose critiques, Sketchup members vote on the sketches that they will practice and ultimately perform in their shows. Students assign who gets to read for each part, and after listening to each sketch, they offer what they agree with and what aspects need to be modified- including timing, dialogue, character development and delivery. All criticism is constructive, and the members seem so comfortable and open with each other that nobody is afraid to jokingly make fun of another.
Sophomore broadcast journalism major Nellie Netterville knew she wanted to be a part of Sketchup after seeing them at UMD’s First Look Fair. She describes Sketchup as “not what I thought it would be, but so much better!” As well as writing sketches, Nellie likes the idea that Sketchup really shows a different side of college, “it has showed me a lot about different types of people that I would never have met in high school. We try to bring our own experiences into it to make sure everybody is represented”, Nellie explains.
She also benefits from the close-knit and loving atmosphere Sketchup brings to its members. Describing the group’s closeness, she says, “We don’t really hide things from each other. The group is very nurturing and takes you under its wing; the people here bring you up when you’re down!”
Come out and share some laughs with Sketchup at its upcoming shows this spring. They perform on April 11th at 8 p.m. and May 10th at 8 p.m. both at Hoff Theatre, in the Adele H. Stamp Student Union. Admission is free of charge, and they are definitely worth your time!