Birdstrike student improv team explores new comedy outlet with “Birdcast”

Birdstrike student improv team explores new comedy outlet with “Birdcast”

Photo Credits: JOELLE TAHTA / AGGIE

Team shares its podcast creation journey, emphasizes importance of creating laughs during crisis

The absence of campus life this quarter has led student organizations to find creative alternatives to function and connect. Birdstrike Theatre, an improv team at UC Davis, has developed a podcast called “Birdcast.” Under normal conditions, Birdstrike meets twice a week and performs in-person shows at UC Davis where they showcase their improv skills to an audience. 

The team, like the rest of the world, has had to adjust to the circumstances of the pandemic and adapt to functioning as a remote team. 

“Adjusting to remote practice has been a constant work in progress and we’re constantly evaluating how everyone feels about the team’s new direction,” said Adam Castro, a fourth-year design major and co-director of Birdstrike. “We still have practice twice a week and we begin each practice as we normally do, by checking in with everyone to see how their weeks are going and how they’re feeling.”

“Birdcast” was started in lieu of in-person shows as a way to continue making content and reaching an audience despite obvious obstacles. The podcast includes two hosts who begin each show: Castro and Tyler Pruyn, a fourth-year English major and co-director of Birdstrike. The podcast continues with the rest of the ensemble spread out over the course of five games. 

The general structure of the podcast is a combination of short- and long-form games, along with special features like a segment called “Commercial Break.” Pruyn shared how the audio-only podcast format gave the team freedom to explore new depths of their comedy. 

“We can be innovative with our improv, as in we can go to places we’ve never been before,” Pruyn said. “Actually, putting sound effects in there is something that’s been really fun. And then just working on our voice work. Something that all of us struggle with, because we have 15 shows a year traditionally, is just finding new characters to do. This has been really helpful in creating new characters because all you have is your voice and you don’t have anything else.”

Still, the podcast has come with difficulties because of its inevitable variation from a regular improv show. Specifically, it’s difficult for the group to adjust to the lack of an audience, a key feature of an improv show. Because of this, Birdstrike has potential plans to incorporate shows on Zoom where the audience can interact. For now, “Birdcast” will continue to be posted every other week on YouTube, along with the occasional previously performed shows posted on Birdstrike’s Facebook page. 

Whether it is on stage or online, Birdstrike remains a tight-knit community for the team. Despite the adjustments, Taylor Davis, a third-year political science and history major and member of Birdstrike, said it remains important for the Birdstrike team to continue putting smiles on people’s faces, especially during such trying times.   

“I think it is super important to keep creating content and keep laughing during this time,” Davis said. “It can be way too easy to remain isolated during this time, get bogged down in horrible news, work and not be able to look with any certainty to normalcy down the line. Our main goal has always been to entertain people and make people laugh. Especially when so many people are going through scary and uncertain times, by continuing to create, we hope we can continue to bring laughter and happiness to our community.”

Written by: Nora Farahdel — features@theaggie.org