BYU sketch comedy troupe Divine Comedy holds auditions

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The Divine Comedy cast usually consists of about 10 people. They plan on adding two to six new cast members following this year’s auditions. (Ryan Turner)

BYU’s sketch comedy troupe Divine Comedy is inviting students to join in on the jokes by auditioning for the group this weekend.

Cast member Brad Witbeck said Divine Comedy sees its purpose as helping BYU campus loosen up. 

“I think everyone’s pretty much on a high stress level at BYU, and so having it as our goal to provide some comic relief to people’s lives is great,” Witbeck said.

Witbeck outlined important qualities auditionees should have: “That they’re funny. That they’re reliable — that they’re someone who’s willing to work hard, and someone who enjoys this.”  

The cast will look for original sketches and fresh ideas at auditions. Each audition is strictly limited to 90 seconds, and auditioning students are encouraged to focus on something highlighting their personal brand of humor. 

Divine Comedy expects a high commitment level of those joining the troupe. Members add the Divine Comedy class to their schedule and meet twice a week, writing sketches in their free time. 

“It kind of consumes your soul,” cast member Tori Pence said. “But it’s an incredible consumption of your soul, and your soul enjoys it.”

After Thursday’s and Friday’s preliminary auditions, the cast will invite 20 to 30 people to callbacks. Those people will work with the cast and perform in a show on Saturday night, and the cast then makes a final decision with a lot of prayer and discussion. 

Pence said the decision-making process is difficult. Each cast member has a different sense of humor and laughs at different things, so agreeing on one person is a big challenge.

“Honestly it just comes to who DC needs at the time and maybe who needs DC at the time, and we don’t know that,” Pence said. “The Lord does, so we have the opportunity to take it to him and say, ‘Who is going to make this a quality experience?'” 

Auditioning students and their supporters usually fill the auditorium. 

“It’s always just jam-packed,” cast member Alena Helzer said. “Every time I’ve come to auditions, every seat is filled, people are on the ground, people are out in the hallways waiting.” 

Cast members extend a warm welcome to anyone interested in attending, despite limited space. The Saturday night performance is the busiest, but students are also welcome to watch the auditions on Thursday and Friday nights.

“Come. Enjoy. It is so much fun for the audience, and it’s fun for us when we actually have a bajillion people in the audience,” Pence said. “Auditions can be disconcerting, so having a nice big audience to laugh at everything you say is wonderful.”

Preliminary auditions are held on a first-come, first-serve basis from 7-10 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 1, and Friday, Sept. 2, in room 151 of the Tanner Building. Callbacks are closed to the public but take place on Saturday morning, and everything wraps up Saturday night with a show from 8-10 p.m. in the same location.

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