Emma Lauren Poole
On Friday nights at around 10:30p.m., after the stress of classes and a busy week are over, Florida Southern College students pack the seats of the theater in the Carole and Marcus Weinstein Computer Science building.
For students, Studio Box improv comedy shows are a perfect way to wind down, but they may not realize that they are playing a crucial role in the show. The show has moved from Branscomb Auditorium, to an outdoor location during the Covid-19 pandemic, and now to the Weinstein theater.
Everywhere the show has been, the students have been there, too, lending their support and interaction to the cast.
The cast of Studio Box says that an audience brings a show to life. Studio Box cast members – otherwise known as “Boxers” – all became a part of the show in different ways, and their unique comedic styles have made the show more vibrant and relatable for students from many different backgrounds.
If you’ve been to a show this year, you’re likely seen Studio Box Vice President Cole Kucharski giving a performance his all onstage. Kucharski remembers one of his first shows, which solidified his place in the show – and taught him a valuable lesson about performing.
“My character’s entire thing was just falling on the floor like a ton of bricks, but everybody started laughing,” Kucharski recalls. “And I was in, like, physical pain at the end of it, because I had to do it five times – just flopping on the stage.”
While dedication is important to any performance, Kucharski made a vow to himself after that show: “When there’s a repetitive scene, I’m not going to hurt myself.”
Kucharski first discovered Studio Box after seeing a show at Scholar’s Weekend, before he even decided to make Florida Southern home.
“I first found out about [Studio Box] when I came to Scholar’s Weekend,” Kucharski says. “Before I even decided to come to Florida Southern, I had seen one of the shows.”
The energy at the show shattered Kucharski’s expectations of a college improv group.
“Everybody has that stigma of ‘oh, it’s an improv group at college, that’s not a cool thing to do,’” he says. Despite this stigma, the crowd was undoubtedly enjoying the show. “People were getting into it, and it was a rowdy, fun thing to do.”
Kucharski wasn’t the only one who first saw a Studio Box show while attending Scholar’s Weekend. Studio Box Historian Rory Tracy also remembers attending a show and immediately feeling at home.
“As I was looking at various schools, Florida Southern never really came to mind,” Tracy admits, “mostly because I didn’t know the school existed, if I’m being completely honest.”
“One thing that happened at every Scholar’s Weekend was a Studio Box show,” Tracy recollects. “I still remember my Scholar’s Weekend show, and it was packed.”
The Scholar’s Weekend show that Tracy attended had been located in the Jenkins Field House, and he remembers the bleachers being full. Everyone was watching.
“It was an invigorating sort of environment,” Tracy says. “I remember because it was something that was really important to me – ‘wow, this is really cool. This is something the school appreciates and really cares about.’”
Needless to say, Studio Box holds a special place in Tracy’s heart.
“It’s really what drew me to this campus,” Tracy says.
Now, Tracy serves the Studio Box troupe as the Historian. His job is to promote the Box by making informational videos. He also believes that an important role of the Historian is to be aware of the history of the Box and constantly work to improve the shows.
“I’ve sort of taken the job differently than I think it’s supposed to be,” Tracy says. “I also think that being Historian would be really cool if we would go into the history of the Box.”
Tracy explains that the Box is 7 years old, but during two of them, some of the history was lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He emphasizes the importance of bridging the gap between the two eras of the Box and learning from the past to make the shows even better as they try to regain their audience.
Aside from holding officer positions, there are plenty of ways to get involved in Studio Box. Amanda Townes, a theater major, is a part of the box simply because it’s an enjoyable experience to her.
“I saw my first Studio Box show the first weekend of school,” Townes says, “and I thought, that would be so cool if I auditioned!”
Townes did, indeed, audition, but the first time she did, she didn’t get in. She didn’t let this small setback stop her. Townes auditioned again and became a part of the show.
“I think it was all in the right timing,” Townes says. “I worked, I kept learning, and I attended every Studio Box show.”
Townes’ hard work and determination have made her a huge asset to the show. Although she doesn’t hold an officer position, she has made her mark through proctoring and performing. She remembers one of her favorite moments from her time as a boxer as being a show this semester.
“The first show back this semester was probably one of my favorite shows,” Townes recalls. “There were just a lot of good one-liners and a lot of good energy.”
Townes, like Kucharski and Tracy, also says that the audience gives the cast the energy that they feed off of during shows.
“We’re kind of going all improv and everything,” Townes explains, “so sometimes getting a great suggestion from them can give us a really great scene.”
It’s hard to say exactly what happens at a Studio Box show – it is improv, after all. What guides the show is the audience – the energy, enthusiasm, and participation of the students in attendance is what determines how good a show will be.
“The proctors – who are like the emcees of the show – they’ll be guiding you through the games,” Tracy explains. “They’re basically the mediators between the audience and the Box.”
“It’s a fun thing to do as an audience member,” Kucharski says. “It’s something to do on campus that’s different than any other experience you can get. Besides shows that are performed, it’s the only real entertainment-type show that we hold on campus.”
Since the shows are held every other week, Kucharski believes Studio Box is special because it’s a form of entertainment that students can rely on.
“Be a little silly,” Kucharski encourages. “We have a show theme that you can dress up for – we always dress up for show themes.” Show themes are advertised usually a week before the show.
“[Studio Box] is really the kind of thing that’s for everyone,” Townes says. “It doesn’t really matter what your major is – if you like to laugh and you think you’re funny, Studio Box is the place for you.”