Colgate’s ETC: Sketch Comedy On The Come-Up


The members of ETC hang out during an intense rehearsal for their upcoming performance.

Colgate prides itself on having over 190 clubs, Division 1 Athletics and a host of intramural sports. People like to say there is a place for everyone here, and it’s true. But even beyond the official school-recognized clubs and teams, there are a variety of lesser-known groups where students can find their niches. One such group is the Experimental Theater Company, or ETC for short.

The Experimental Theater Company is a sketch-comedy group that allows students to write their own sketches and perform content in bi-annual performances. Run by students, with “Senior Leaders” taking charge, ETC experiences a certain degree of autonomy that comes with being an underground organization.

“We don’t have to answer to anyone, which is the nicest thing. We make our own rules. We run our own timeline,” junior Caroline Hurwitz said.

Despite lacking official recognition from the school, ETC follows a flexible structure, which allows for meetings to run smoothly and for shows to occur every semester. Each meeting, the members begin by sharing the highs and lows of their days. Often, the events they share from their lives serves as comedic fodder for their sketches.

“It is very collaborative. We talk about our days, and then we talk about ideas and we read anything that we have written. And then we split up into groups however we see fit and then we start cranking it out. It’s very informal,” Hurwitz said.

This semester, the group has 14 members who meet to write new sketches and rehearse old content. The members constantly draft new work, but only the sketches they all find funny make it into their final performance.  About once a semester, the members read through the sketches they have written to decide what will make it into the final show.

“We perform once every semester, at the very end–the weekend before finals. This semester we’re doing two performances though. We’re doing something brand new, called ‘The Shitshow’ in the Taproom. Every spring we do a show called ‘30-60’ and basically we stand on stage with a timer that says “60 minutes” on it and we start the timer, and there are 30 skits we have to perform in 60 minutes or under. It’s very interactive; the audience yells out skit numbers, and it’s a lot of fun. We write so many skits per semester, so [‘The Shitshow’] will be old skits or random things we want to put into a show that just don’t make it in,” junior Liz Mullin said.

The sketches can be about anything – from espionage during World War II to finding love through speed dating to life at Colgate. The one thing that all the sketches share is their ability to induce laughter. The members of ETC all share a common interest in, and knack for, comedy. They hold fun and informal auditions once a semester in the hopes of getting more funny people interested in sketch comedy.

“I joined a couple of weeks ago. I saw a Facebook post, I think my friend shared it. I auditioned, and I’m here,” junior Brett Goldberg said.

Even if you’re not funny, you can appreciate ETC by attending one of their events this semester. “The Shitshow” will take place in the Taproom after spring break, and their spring “30-60” show will take place the weekend before finals. Attend one of their performances to see Colgate students at their best–doing what they love–or just to have a laugh.