High school improv comedy league helps students build character

High School Jesters, an improv comedy league for Clark County students, draws in an array of personalities.

Megan Sweeney from Centennial High School said she was always into shows like "Whose Line is it Anyway" and "Saturday Night Live." Maile Onsaga from Palo Verde got into it because she wanted to be the ultimate actress. And Kori Shalmy from Silverado says she's been doing improv comedy since she was in 6th grade (though admits that she used to be terrible because she often had to perform in front of her crush).

Meanwhile, Tirza Wymesett from Chaparral High School was literally pulled into an improv class by her friend.

"It was awful. I started crying. I was really uncomfortable," said Tirza.

Her mom suggested she stick with it anyway, saying it would help improve her confidence. She eventually won a "Most Improved Student" award and became the MVP of her high school troupe during her junior year.

High School Jesters is currently entering its ninth year in Clark County. It's looking to expand to the rest of the state, and even Utah.

"The idea of doing a high school improv league was kinda laughed at when I threw it out there initially," said Lead Coordinator Kopy Kopatich. "It's not being laughed at as much anymore."

High school teams that are part of the league compete against each other, just like sports. There are playoffs, championships, awards, and everything else you'd expect from a competition.

Though students are ultimately vying to be champions, Kopy maintains that the atmosphere is more cooperative than cutthroat.

"You have to work together to make the show good," he said.

Improv not only helps create a support network. It also helps students speak with confidence and make split-second decisions. And in the case of Isaac Glover from Green Valley High School, it helped him get through a rough patch in his life.

"When I first started getting into improv, I was coming out of a really unstable home life," said Isaac. "[Improv] allowed me to think on my feet. I didn't have to sit there and freak out... I can take care of the people that need it, and not be worried if I'm messing up."

Those interested in signing up for High School Jesters should ask their theater teacher. And if it's not available at your school, send an email to info@jestserendipity.com

Note: Some statements have been lightly edited for clarity.

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