Guerrilla Comedy lives up to name

Michelle Kibiger

They perform their craft in a hit-and-run fashion. They strive for freedom like soldiers. Then they fade away, leaving laughter in their wake.
Somehow the name Guerrilla Comedy fits the troupe of University students who just finished a 10-day stint at the Third Minnesota Fringe Festival, a showcase of theater, music, comedy and poetry. Their sketch comedy drew a full house — about 30 audience members each night.
“Under the cover of darkness, we advance upon our prey,” said Steve Arrowood, member of Guerrilla Comedy and a senior in the College of Liberal Arts. He and the group’s founder, CLA senior Damien Geoffrion, both said their comedic creations make them similar to guerrillas because of the roving, changing nature of sketch comedy.
Geoffrion said the group provides more than comedy. They strike fast and complete their mission — entertaining the audience.
“We provide a service like the A-Team,” he said, referring to the television soldiers of fortune.
Geoffrion’s joke is typical of the group’s style. Its material is a mixture of “Saturday Night Live” and “Kids In The Hall” — characteristic of people who were children in the ’80s and live on pop culture, television in particular.
Members are quick to emphasize the intelligence of their repertoire. Geoffrion said he came to the Twin Cities from the University of Arizona, where he said his life was “stupid.” Geoffrion enjoys the sophistication of Minnesota audiences.
“Here there are people who are intelligent and appreciate good writing,” Geoffrion said. “I appreciate that.”
All eight members of Guerrilla Comedy are University students who met one another in theatre classes. The group debuted at the College of Liberal Arts open arts day in the spring of 1995. Geoffrion knew the man in charge of the event, who suggested the group do some roving sketches, like guerrillas — hence Guerrilla Comedy.
And just who are they setting free? Themselves, says Arrowood, adding that though University productions are a good experience, they just don’t allow for as much creativity as an independent activity does.
“It’s just like being liberated,” Arrowood said, describing his experience with the group. “There’s no one telling you what to do and what not to do. I just love the creative angle.”
The group’s members work together to write and produce the sketches in their show. They include each member in the creation of their sketches, which Geoffrion says is vital to the group’s existence.
“One main thing about it is that we’re an extremely communist group,” Geoffrion said. “Much of the work is a collaboration of the entire team, and I don’t think it would exist without that.”
Arrowood agreed that the way the group works together is a key to its success. “It’s a total ‘we’ thing,” he said.
Geoffrion hopes that the guerrilla style will appeal to enough people to carry the troupe all the way to New York City.
He says he’s very proud of the progress they have made so far, building everything from the ground up.
“I’d like to get sponsors and be able to produce a relatively steady rate of shows and have a consistent venue,” he said. Up to this point the group has performed at various comedy stages in the Twin Cities.
Going to school roots many of the members to the University.
For now, the group plans to concentrate on keeping the material fresh and pleasing audiences.
“Guerrilla Comedy follows the philosophy that people won’t laugh at the same words more than a couple of times,” Geoffrion said, “but they will laugh at the same actions and style.”