1. Long Form is where it’s at. 

The Purple Crayon is Yale's only predominantly Long Form improv group and the only group at Yale that consistently varies its show structures.  Not only do we think it makes for a more exciting, diverse improv experience, but it's also all the rage out in “the real world.”  The best improv companies and theaters, such as Upright Citizen’s Brigade, The Second City, and Improv Olympic do Long Form (we know because we do workshops at those places on the Crayon’s dime). Those performers you see on SNL, Mad TV, and The Office? Almost all of them started their comedy careers doing Long Form. While we use Short Form techniques as valuable training tools and occasionally in performance, Long Form is the art we practice. Most of the graduates from ANY troupe on campus, if they continue to pursue improv after college, join a Long Form group because that’s what most professional improvisers do. And with good reason: once you’ve experienced the incredible satisfaction that long form has to offer, there’s no going back. Actually though.

2. The Crayon mixes it up.

Variety and experimentation define a huge part of our group. Long Form is an incredibly flexible art, and our shows often feature epic stories, intense relationships, recurring characters, music/singing, audience participation, and pretty much anything else you can imagine so long as it’s made up on the spot. There are no rules in our performances, no assigned scenes or pre-planned games. We all get up onstage, get a suggestion, and see what happens. If someone wants to start a new scene, they do it. If someone wants to start a song with the piano player, they do it! Each performance has unlimited possibilities. We also make a conscious effort to do brand new shows each year, which in the past have included the “iPod Shuffle Show” (scene suggestions from audience members’ iPods), “Murder Mystery” (complete with a victim, suspects, and plot twists), and even full-length improvised plays (in the style of Shakespeare or a musical, for example). If you have anything else you’d like to try out, we’d be all ears! While the Crayon does have a group director, our number one goal is to make sure the group as a whole is doing exactly what it wants to be doing. And because we like to try new things, we perform as much as possible. Last semester we did ten on-campus shows; no other group did more than five.


3. The Crayon sticks together.

We’re a group of friends both onstage and off. We like hanging out with each other, and hopefully you’ll like hanging out with us too. We bring that same spirit to our performances—above all, we’re looking to have a great time improvising and making one another laugh. The Purple Crayon is also a performance ensemble that works and functions as a group for the betterment of said ensemble. Call it improv communism if you wish, but it means that there are almost never assigned roles in any particular show. People enter in and out of scenes as they feel they are needed, so you’re never sitting on the sideline waiting for your turn to  improvise--you’re participating 100% of the time. Every member of the group, from new freshman to wizened senior, has an equal role in every show as soon as they join the Crayon. Our humor comes out of working together to create funny situations and characters, not individual improvisers making isolated jokes. You don't need to join an improv group to make your own jokes. Why not develop a different talent? 

4. The Crayon shares the love.  

We’re the only troupe at Yale that currently performs at comedy festivals nationwide (this past year alone we were invited to so many that, as we write this, we can’t remember the exact number, but it was more than eight), including the National College Comedy Festival at Skidmore. We also do shows with other college groups as well as professional improvisers from places like New York City, and we seek out a variety of workshops from theaters and groups when we travel (including UCB, SAK Comedy Lab, Derrick Comedy, and Baby Wants Candy in the past two years alone), and we have long-running associations with some of them (Purple Crayon was one of the earliest college groups to form under the tutelage of Del Close and Improv Olympic, another place we recently took workshops). As a result, we have friends in improv troupes and theaters stretching all the way to California. And it’s nice to have friends in places. 

5. The Crayon loves improv.  

This maaay seem obvious. But we’re people who truly believe improvising has changed our lives for the better, and we love to see what new ways we can come up with to have a great time and make audiences laugh. Everything mentioned earlier on this page contributes to that, and, if you’re someone who’s passionate about learning how to improvise and experiment with comedy, you’re a kindred spirit. Whether it’s inventing new show structures, actively working to educate ourselves at professional festivals and workshops with some of the biggest names in improv comedy, or even just having a discussion after a rehearsal, we’re dedicated to finding the things that excite us about improv and pursuing them. When we practice, we’re never perfecting a certain “game” or “type of scene,” but rather working to improve our skills as all-around improvisers and scene partners. We also try to run open workshops for the Yale community so everyone can get in on the fun. Cuz, above all, we think improv is a real good time, and that’s why we love to do it. 

If you have any other questions, feel free e-mail Sally Helm, our tap coordinator.  She's very friendly and knows some secrets. She won’t be able to tell you the secrets obviously (plus they have nothing to do with the Crayon), but she can answer anything you’re curious about in terms of our group.