Senior Luke Martin wasn’t really an improvisational actor until he came to Geneseo, gaining most of his interest when he auditioned for and joined improv comedy troupe No Laugh Track Required during his freshman year. Martin said he was inspired to pursue improv by his high school theater director, a member of an improv troupe based in Albany, who started each of Martin’s high school musical rehearsals with an improv warm-up. Martin is now an avid improv actor, having found it to be his real passion.
Martin even started up an improv group in Albany, his hometown, with fellow No Laugh Track Required member senior Spencer Herrmann. The troupe has been out of commission since their sophomore year, but Martin said they are planning to rekindle the improv this Thanksgiving.
Martin specializes in long-form improv, or creating a lengthy comedy theme based on audience participation.
“Getting a long-form to come together in the end, to perform a successful play out of it, is really one of the greatest feelings in the world,” he said.
As far as actual techniques go, Martin simply likes to “let the craziness out,” he said.
“Improv sort of comes naturally to me,” Martin said. “My favorite way to practice is by having an all-out exchange with random strangers that I meet at parties and stuff. It’s a lot of fun and pretty beneficial to yell at each other and break into character with friends and strangers.”
His major influences include Tim and Eric, the comedy duo behind the “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” and the Upright Citizens Brigade show “ASSSSCAT.”
Martin does dramatic acting as well. He played Romeo in Geneseo’s production of “Romeo and Juliet,” also performing in “Spring Awakening,” “Dog Sees God,” the upcoming production of “The Pillowman” and various musicals in his high school days.
“What I do is take a lot of the stuff I learn in improv and bring it to the dramatic scenes that I do,” he said. “It helps you stay in the moment. So for me there’s sort of a bridge between dramatic acting and improv.”
There is a challenge that comes with drama, however, and Martin does run into obstacles of his own.
“Coming from an improv background, I’m pretty good at staying in the moment,” Martin said. “But it’s when I have to dive into a role and let loose the emotions of my character that I have some trouble. I actually did months of Shakespearean research while preparing for my role as Romeo, because it’s so tough to open yourself like that.”
Martin intends to save up some money for a year after graduating before moving to New York City to pursue a career in acting and perhaps take some classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade.
He is not a cynic when it comes to advice for those interested in such work.
“If you really want to act, I’d say to not let the fear of getting up there and opening up yourself to an audience stand in the way,” Martin said. “It goes away quickly, especially in improv when you’re basically just having fun with your buddies on stage. If it sucks, then you can have a good laugh over it afterwards.”