Former exercise physiology major Morgan Roger discovers passion for comedy

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Morgan Roger performs with Oscar Diaz at the Villain Theater, where they both take improvisation classes. Photo courtesy Jeff Quintana

Morgan Roger performs with Oscar Diaz at the Villain Theater, where they both take improvisation classes. Photo courtesy Jeff Quintana

While some students regret making mistakes, senior Morgan Roger’s change in majors eventually helped her realize her dreams of being a comedian and even creating her own sitcom.

After figuring out that her passion for television is her primary interest, Roger switched from studying exercise physiology to majoring in motion pictures. She then became a director and associate producer of UMTV’s “Off the Wire,” as well as a performer at Villain Theater, which focuses on improvisation-styled comedy.

When she switched majors, Roger was introduced to yet another one of her interests – comedy. Watching comedy films reminded her how much she loves putting smiles on people’s faces, she said.

“I’ve always loved making people laugh,” Roger said. “That’s always been something I enjoyed doing and it’s a gift also. To get a laugh from a room is one of my favorite things.”

Her involvement with the Villain Theater began after she performed at MicroTheater Miami – a downtown spot supporting the work of locals – alongside the artistic director, Jeff Quintana. Quintana encouraged her to continue in her path by taking classes at the theater. After finishing her beginners’ class she auditioned for the Performance Intensive class, which allowed her to gain more experience performing in front of audiences.

“At first it’s intimidating to get out there because it is improv,” she said. “We have no idea what’s going to happen, so I thought it was best to sit back, watch and learn, but Jeff throws us out there because that’s the only way we’ll get better.”

Each class consists of learning new improvisation formats. Once the concept is understood, the students then use it as a base for their comedy. The next step is to hold a conversation full of one liners and small jokes based on a suggested theme.

Through these classes, Roger has learned the importance of a team effort and full participation from everyone for a successful show, she said.

As for preparation for her acts, Roger doesn’t have any pre-performance rituals. She doesn’t worry too much about messing up since she’s still learning the tools of the trade.

“It’s just like having a bad game in high school in basketball or something,” she said. “You learn from it, shake it off and say I’m coming back tomorrow to do some more. It’s not always perfect, but you have to get over it.”

Roger’s inspiration comes from comedians Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who she feels have the same comedic style as her own, and more importantly, are great people outside of their craft.

“I didn’t think that I had any chance or shot working in television or film and I didn’t think it existed,” Roger said. “The Tina Feys and the Amy Poehlers, they only got to be the Tina Feys and Amy Poehlers because they did it. So, I was just like, I’m going to do it.”

Despite the fact that a college education isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for entering the comedy field, Roger is happy that she is getting a degree.

“I’ve learned so much from it,” she said. “I don’t think I would’ve been able to realize that I wanted to be a comedian, and I don’t think that I would’ve been so confident going into that world.”

She hopes to one day create her own sitcom, and to do so she says she needs to know the ins and outs of television as well as comedy.

To catch Roger in the act, you can find her Saturday nights at Villain Theater located at 8325 N.E. Second Ave. in Miami.

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