Junior English and French double major Oliver Diaz has always loved writing and making people laugh. When he came to Geneseo, he decided to put those passions to use when he picked up the creative writing track on his English major and joined the improvisation group No Laugh Track Required. Diaz explained that comedy was “something that [I] grew up with,” noting that he was profoundly influenced by his father, who also had a passion for comedy.
Diaz added that he knew early on that he appreciated the power of comedy, specifically recalling a time in elementary school where he and a close friend of his were hysterically laughing on the floor from a simple joke they made. “I remember always trying to make people laugh,” he said. This love for spreading laughs helped to foster his interest in improv comedy.
As the years have gone by, Diaz emphasized that No Laugh Track Required has become more than just something fun for him—it’s become a creative outlet. “I went to a [No Laugh Track Required] show my freshman year,” he said. “In my next semester in my freshman year, I went to audition and was really lucky to get in. It’s slowly become a really important thing for me that I enjoy.”
Diaz noted that one of his favorite parts about the improv group is the “potential for growth” amongst performers. “[Improv is] silly, but you can get good at it ... just being involved in it and seeing over the past two years [how] people get better has probably been the most rewarding thing,” he said. “It’s really cool to see people improve in anything ... and to improve personally.”
Such personal growth for Diaz is reflected in his newfound confidence and outgoing nature—traits that he wouldn’t have attributed to his younger self. “I was really small and scrawny and didn’t know how else to communicate with people,” he said. “I definitely was really timid and awkward and quiet.”
Apart from developing personally, Diaz noted that he loves the group dynamic of No Laugh Track Required. “I really enjoy our rehearsals [and shows],” he said. “It’s just a place where a bunch of people who relate in this way of making jokes constantly throughout the day can convene and work together toward something that they’re passionate about.”
When he’s not working on comedy, Diaz can often be found exploring his passion for writing. He explained that he has loved creative writing since elementary school, expressing himself through music or in journals. Toward the end of high school, Diaz began writing reflective entries that extended past typical daily recordings. It wasn’t until he attended Geneseo, however, that he realized that he could do something more with his love of writing.
After taking ENGL 201: Foundations of Creative Writing, Diaz knew that the creative writing track was the right choice for him. “I think I almost tricked myself into deciding [a major] very early and it was the right choice,” he said. “Now, I’m like, ‘Yes, this is really what I want to do.’”
Diaz’s experiences in both improv and writing have allowed him to explore other creative avenues like acting. Diaz performed in the theater department’s fall staged reading series as Mr. Marmalade in director junior Joshua Shabshis’ adaptation of Noah Haidle’s “Mr. Marmalade” and will return to the stage in director senior Samantha Clowes’ staged reading of Christopher Durang’s “Beyond Therapy.”
With so many different creative talents, Diaz isn’t quite sure about his postgrad plans. “In an ideal world, I would go on and keep doing improv and write and life would just be a “Saturday Night Live” experience, but it’s not that simple,” he said. “I love it, it’s what I want to do, but it’s not that simple.”
Diaz noted that while he has looked into potentially taking classes at Upright Citizens Brigade Theater or The Second City to further his improv career, he has also considered other careers like teaching. Whatever career path Diaz ends up on after college, it’s certain that his talents and enthusiasm for comedy, writing and acting will guide him to a successful future.