Spicy Clamato brings comedy to campus

Ben Rathert, junior in LAS, left, and Jeremy Kanne, junior in engineering, perform during Spicy Clamato´s Monday set in the Courtyard Cafe in the Union. Online Poster

By Jane Louis

Comedy is the name of the game for members of Spicy Clamato.

The improvisational comedy troupe performs short-form sketches every Monday at 8 p.m. in the Courtyard Cafe at the Illini Union. Short-form improvisation includes games based on suggestions from the audience.

Spicy Clamato member John Loos, senior in communications and employee of Illini Media Company, described their shows as “quick, hard-hitting” comedy. Their games are primarily short skits with a gimmick, he said.

“World’s Worst,” for example, is a game where an audience member suggests an object, profession or situation, and the members of the troupe act out what the world’s worst version of that would be.

Audience participation is important to the show’s success, said member Aaron Pinkston, sophomore in LAS and employee of Illini Media Company.

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“If the audience is more into it, then we’re more into it, and it’s a better show,” he said.

Loos agreed that the audience plays a big role. He said the audience is involved in the show, so they feel included when jokes from earlier games resurface.

“Once they see it, it’s really easy to understand,” Loos said.

Spicy Clamato formed at the University in 1991. Their name came from drawing an adjective and a noun out of a hat.

In addition to their free shows at the Union on Monday nights, Spicy Clamato also performs at variety and charity shows, and the troupe can be hired for events.

As they dug through a laundry basket of candy and snacks – their prize from placing second in a variety show sponsored by the Chi Omega sorority – the group agreed that having fun is the best part of Spicy Clamato.

“We are constantly just joking around,” member Alex Zavala, freshman in engineering, said, while the others ate candy and traded friendly insults.

Even their warm-ups, where they practice games and get ready for their show, are filled with jokes, laughter and the occasional constructive criticism.

“These guys truly are my best friends on campus,” Pinkston said.

Despite the number of other comedy troupes at the University, including DeBono and Like Disco But Not Really, the members of Spicy Clamato said there is no rivalry between the groups. Some troupes even have cross-members like Loos, who also performs with DeBono.

Loos said he expects Spicy Clamato to be around for a while.

“We won’t go away,” he said. “We refuse to die.”

If their free Monday night shows at the Union are not enough of an incentive to see a performance, member Jeremy Kanne, junior in engineering, pointed out that comedy is a great way to escape the hectic lives of students.

“It’s a good laugh in the middle of stress,” he said.