Student Spotlight: Meghan McGuire '17 on Sketch Comedy
Jess Ensley ’17: What do you do at the library?
Meghan McGuire ’17: I work in Interlibrary Loan, assisting Susan Rice with lending books and articles to other libraries and borrowing books for Denison students and faculty.
Jess: What is your favorite thing about working at the library?
Meghan: I like being able to walk through the stacks while looking for books. I'm the kind of person who loves browsing bookstores, so it's great to be able to work where I can walk among books all the time.
Jess: Who is your favorite professor and why?
Meghan: My favorite professor is Mark Evans Bryan in the Theatre Department. I have had him for playwriting and history classes. He cares deeply about the classes he teaches and about his students. He is very supportive of student creativity, both inside of class and outside of class. His playwriting class was one of my favorites at Denison, because he was so welcoming of everyone's style of writing. He still mentions the play that I wrote in that class my sophomore year to me, which signals how much he cares about his students' work.
Jess: What is your career goal?
Meghan: I would love to make a living writing and performing comedy. In the short term, I plan to move to Chicago after graduation to take improvisation and sketch classes at the Second City, iO [formerly the ImprovOlympic], and the Annoyance. I would love to perform on any of the stages at these great theatres or teach in their training centers. There's a great network of Denison alums in Chicago doing different kinds of work in theatre, so I would love to become a part of that network. Beyond the Chicago comedy scene, I would someday like to move to New York or Los Angeles to work in the writers’ room on a television show. I admire the work of women like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Samantha Bee, and Jessica Williams, and I would love to be able to do the kind of work that they’re doing as comedians and women.
Jess: Tell me a little bit about your work with theatre and sketch comedy.
Meghan: I started taking theatre classes when I was five at a small theatre called The Theater Project in my hometown, Brunswick, Maine. It is a small non-profit theatre that teaches young people theatre and improvisation games, and then in middle school and high school, the students start performing in full length productions. My two older brothers started taking classes at the theater before me, and I would always ask the people who ran the theatre when it would be my turn to act, and when I started, I couldn't stop. Since I've been in college, I participate more in behind-the-scenes theatre work. I've done a lot of work with Denison Independent Theatre Association, writing and directing shows for them. I started doing sketch comedy in high school with The Theater Project's high school show called “Voices in the Mirror,” in which we wrote sketches about things that were affecting young people. I realized how much I loved doing funny voices, making funn y faces, and making people laugh. In my freshman year at Denison, I joined Sketch'rs, Denison's Sketch Comedy Troupe. We're an ensemble that writes and performs all our own original sketches. This past semester, I studied at the Second City Training Center in Chicago, where I got to spend a whole semester creating sketch comedy through writing and improvisation.
Jess: What is your favorite production you've ever been in? Why?
Meghan: I'm going to cheat on this one, because my favorite was not actually a production I was in. Over Big Red Weekend this year, I put on a production of my summer research. I wrote thirty-five monologues for women to address the paucity of complex and interesting women's parts in the theatre. I had thirteen women on campus perform thirteen of the monologues. It's hard to explain what it feels like to see something you've written onstage, but I will try to put it into words. I had spent all summer laboring over these monologues, revising and rewriting them, which was hard work and could be stressful at times. In the end, though, I got to see all the hard work pay off, when some amazing women were able to take my words, understand what I was saying, and perform it onstage. Audiences were very receptive, and I honestly have never felt so proud of something I have created.
Jess: What was your experience with Second City Training Center's Comedy Studies program like?
Meghan: I have admired the Second City for a long time, since I found out that a lot of my idols had trained and performed there. When I found out that there was a program for college students, I jumped at the opportunity to apply. In the program, we spent the entire day at the Second City Training Center, taking classes in improvisation, sketch writing, movement and vocal training, acting, and the history of comedy. At the end of the semester, we got to put on a Second City style revue on one of the resident stages at the Second City. It was a great program for personal growth, both as a comedian, but also as a human, because we spent a lot of time collaborating with an ensemble with which we would create our final show. A lot of the program was a series of “pinch me” moments. One of the stand-out experiences was in my acting class. We were performing archived Second City scenes, and I was assigned to a scene called “Wicked,” which had been originally written and performed by Rachel Dratch and Tina Fey. It was a very challenging program, but ultimately ended up being the most rewarding experience of my life.
Jess: What advice do you have for first years?
Meghan: My advice is to put yourself out there. Join that club that kind of scares you. I guarantee it's where you will find your people who will end up being your forever friends.
Jess: Finally, what is one thing you have never done at Denison that you want to do before graduating?
Meghan: I have never gone on a walk in the Bio Reserve, and I think that's something I should definitely do before I leave. I’d better get on that before it gets too cold outside.