Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Garrens Comedy Troupe

It was 17 years ago this very weekend that BYU’s most treasured sketch/improv comedy troupe, The Garrens, first performed. And I was one of those original members. Yes, I have written about how this wonderfully creative opportunity came to be and how it influenced my life. (If you haven’t read it, may I suggest clicking here.) However, if you would like the full, unabridged history of The Garrens, you can read about it here, on the website of my dear friend and founder of The Garrens, Eric D. Snider.

Being involved in The Garrens turned out to be one of the most influential decisions I ever made and was the vehicle for much happiness in my life. I summed it up in this blurb I wrote several years ago for BYU’s alumni magazine, regarding The Garrens Comedy Troupe:

Student Performing Groups
In December of 1992 my roommate and good friend, Lincoln Hoppe, told me about a flier he had seen in the Wilkinson Center announcing auditions being held for a comedy troupe that was going to start performing regularly on campus.

Had I known how many good things would come from being a part of The Garrens Comedy Troupe, I would not have mocked Lincoln so quickly for suggesting he and I audition. Especially when I could have used the energy to mock him for so many other things, as is the practice among roommates in college.

When the original nine of us got together that December to start practicing, we thought we were hilarious. We were also fairly confident that nobody else would think we were. We practiced in a little theater in the Wilkinson Center that held no more than 100 people, and that is where we were scheduled to perform. The joke was that we would one day perform in the Marriott Center, while we were actually unsure if we would ever fill any of the 100 seats there in the Wilkinson Center. I mean with anybody besides our roommates.

The Garrens became bigger than any of us thought it would. We moved to larger rooms to perform, shows regularly sold out, we began performing off-campus, and in April 1995, just over three years from when we started, we performed in the Marriott Center.

There is great satisfaction in seeing people laugh and enjoy something that you’ve created. To feel like one of your talents is appreciated. But more influential to me were the friendships that I came away with. Some of the greatest people I know are people I met in The Garrens. Do I have a favorite? Why, yes. My wife, Katie, who joined the cast in the fall of 1993, decided she would date me in the fall of 1994, and married me in the summer of 1995. 

And now, let’s watch a short photo-history of The Garrens, from the year it all began, January 1993, to January 1996, the year that Katie and I finished school and faded from the group. (Warning: If you were NOT in The Garrens and don’t even remember them, this fanciful trip down Nostalgia Lane may not be as enjoyable for you. If you WERE in The Garrens, but not from this era (like, for instance, if you were there from late 1996 to March 2001, "The Day the Comedy Died"), then please know I think you are pretty great – I adore you – and I’m sorry I wasn’t there to take any pictures of those days.

To those Garrens out there who are a part of this period of my life, I hope you enjoy this little tribute to you. What a wonderful ride it was. How I miss you. How I miss the creativity and the energy and the familial feel that was there in those early years. I love you very much. 

Please click here to watch a slice of your life.