Performances by the BYU comedic troupe Divine Comedy often draw massive lines in the hours before the shows start because each show tends to sell out.
The comedic team attributes the success to its uniquely clean humor and dedication to the art of funny.
The troupe has been performing for 22 years on the BYU campus and originally began as a club. Today it is a one credit class that requires an audition for admittance. Students on the acting team say they’ve highly enjoyed the experience.
Members of Divine Comedy come up with almost all of the ideas for their skits on their own or in small groups with other members of the cast. Alena Helzer, a new member to the troupe, said the process for choosing the sketches in their final show is long and sometimes difficult.
Divine Comedy members write the sketches then pitch them to the other troupe members, according to Helzer. Members of the troupe vote to determine which sketches are incorporated into their final performances.
Helzer said Divine Comedy members also learn to change plans at a moment’s notice. Sometimes changes will be made to skits just two hours before their performance, and they have to memorize the additions before going on stage.
Longtime Divine Comedy member Tori Pence said the shows are designed to give students a break from day-to-day life at BYU. Her personal goal in performing is to help the audience be happy.
“I hope the audience laughs their butts off and come away much happier than when they came to the show,” Pence said.
This year’s shows have given audiences a variety of comedic material to enjoy. Divine Comedy’s “The Hunchback of BYU” parodied the famous Disney movie about a bell-ringing recluse this past fall semester. The group’s second show was “Super Smash Bros. the Musical,” which portrayed a clash between the various popular characters in the Nintendo video game.
Shows performed during winter semester included “Inside Kylo Ren” and “RA-ngled.” The first performance combined elements of “Inside Out” and “Star Wars” to create a feature skit, and the second show brought “Tangled” characters to BYU.
Divine Comedy adviser Elizabeth Funk said the best comedic moments happen in shows when two ideas come together that don’t seem like they should.
“I think what makes a funny skit are incongruent ideas that play around in our brains and kind of tickle us,” said Funk, who is also an administrative assistant in BYU’s Department of Theater and Media Arts.
Funk said the first two shows of the semester almost always sell out within the last few days before each performance. The group often sells 700 tickets or more depending on where they’re performing. Shows are most commonly held in the Joseph Smith Building, the Varsity Theater in the Wilkinson Center and the N. Eldon Tanner Building.