Etch-a-Sketch move from black box to big stage

Keala Rusher, Contributing Reporter

Moving from a ragtag group of theater misfits to slapping knees with the best at Hell Yes Fest, founding member Doug Kmiotek is amazed at Etch-a-Sketch, Tulane’s only comedy group, and its progress.

The group transitioned from Improv Sketch Comedy, which consisted of six theater majors who were not cast in the spring 2012 play, to its current 15 members of diverse majors and backgrounds. Rapid growth and change has occurred for the group since its inception. Fall auditions are highly competitive, attracting upwards of 50 students of whom Etch-a-Sketch selects three to five. This increase in popularity has strengthened the program, consistently bringing high levels of talent.

This past Friday, Etch-a-Sketch performed at Old Marquer Theater as a contributing act to Hell Yes Fest, an 11-day comedy festival featuring acts from New Orleans, as well as groups and solo comedians from all over the country.

“The festival is full of people from Atlanta, Chicago and New York, but there are also 10 or 12 New Orleans groups which is great because we want to encourage those as much as possible,” Kmiotek said.

Etch-a-Sketch spends over half of its time brainstorming sketches, and it is clear that college life has a huge influence on the group’s creative process, considering one of its sketches consisted of a fraternity lineup where the pledge master demanded increasingly strange things from the pledges such as, “act like my dad and tell me you love me.”

As a senior, Kmiotek is excited to see how far the program has come and has high hopes for its future.

“I just think we should continue to get our name out there, like the people who flew out from Chicago to do the show,” Kmiotek said. “It would be awesome if we could fly to Chicago and do a festival there.” The lighthearted feel of Old Marquer Theater as well as the diverse audience present created a perfect environment for comedy on a Friday night.