By LF Mathew Tan | Staff Writer
Once a month, the seats and aisles of Matthews 210 are packed with nearly 300 eager students. These people are not is not dreading the start of a lecture or anxious for the start of an exam. This audience is waiting for The Crazy Monkeys, Purdue’s premier Improv comedy group.
At these shows, the group of Purdue comedians performs a series of short games, similar to Whose Line is it Anyway? with the help of audience suggestions. Everything is done on the fly and the jokes range from corny puns to raunchy punch lines.
Following their show on Valentine’s Day weekend, we spoke with president of The Crazy Monkeys, Christina Buckkey, to learn more about the group and her own experiences. Christina is a senior in Health and Human Sciences. Her 35th and last show will be in late April in Loeb Playhouse.
First off, what’s the story behind the name The Crazy Monkeys?
It’s actually a funny story. Back in the 80s, we were a group called National Velveeta and back then, the group used to do a longer form of improvisation where it’s much longer games. The group split off into short form, which is what you see tonight, and the short form group needed a name. So they put adjectives and nouns into two bowls and they went to Chili’s and asked the waitress, ‘Can you pick out one from each?’, and she got “Crazy” and “Monkeys”. So that’s literally the story behind it.
Do a lot of the members come from performing or theater backgrounds?
Some of them do. I did ComedySportz in high school. ComedySportz is a high school version of what we do. People get into a group and each school has an improv troupe. I did that for three years. Our youngest member, Duncan, has done that for three years. Our sophomore Natalie Weber has done that for three years. And then some people just did drama in high school whereas others this is the first time they’ve done Improv.
How has the group grown since you first joined?
It’s changed a total 180. Just a complete flip. My freshman year we were rocking about 100 people a show, 120. The thing is we were a group that not a lot of people had heard of. We used to be popular and we got less popular. Maybe some people didn’t the members. I don’t know what was going on. I was a freshman.
Once we started, we bumped up our marketing, we bumped up new members in the group, and then we just started promoting the crap out of the show. We have been packed like that since December 2012, which was my first show. Before that it was people here and there but now it’s a madhouse.
What are your biggest pieces of advice for someone trying to get better at Improv?
Just go for it. There are people in this group that still struggle with just doing it. People get in their heads the lack of confidence. If you just go out there and you be yourself and you just do what that person would do in the scene, you’ll find that there’s more comedy from being in the scene than from thinking of funny jokes. We do play joke games, but the scenic games are what really people like. So for struggling improvisers out there just believe in yourself and also read up. You watch Whose Line? and you’ll see how they do things. You take classes as well. Honestly it’s just a mentality.
Put yourself really into it. There’s Improv Club here where they do workshops where they teach people who aren’t in groups how to become at the level where you can be in a group.
I remember my sophomore year in high school I was the shyest one. I didn’t speak to anybody. I didn’t even know why I even was on the team. For the first show I was just like ‘You know what? Screw it. I don’t know any of these people.’ I just went out there and I was my crazy, goofy self.
Do you have a favorite memory or show that you’ve done?
We had an engagement at one of our shows. It was actually the February show my freshman year. We had some guy come up to us beforehand saying ‘I met my current girlfriend at a Crazy Monkeys show. I want to propose to my girlfriend at a Crazy Monkeys show.’
We made them play this game called Moving People where we have audience members come up and move the Monkeys around. We flipped it and we had the couple be moved by us. What we did was we turned the girl around, we got the guy down on one knee, and he proposed to her. She turned around and she was so shocked. It was so beautiful. We cut up pieces of paper as confetti and we started playing R. Kelly’s ‘Bump and Grind’ in the background. It was a beautiful moment. Especially because the improv is always good. We’re pretty on top of the ball. But to have an engagement was just so cool and it was so full circle to see what The Crazy Monkeys brings people.
Lastly, is there anything you want to say to your fans and the people who come out to your shows?
Thank you. The reason why the comedy is good is because people come out. If the audience is loud, then we’re going to be loud. If they’re having fun, we’re going to be having fun. If they’re drunk, we’re going to be basically drunk on stage. So thank you for coming out. Seriously. Packing the house just makes us better. And keep coming. It’s only going to get better.