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The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Go For Broke: Sketch comedy groups trusts the process and each other

Members+of+the+comedy+sketch+group+%E2%80%9CGo+for+Broke%E2%80%9D+begin+their+show+with+a+skit+about+finding+the+board+game+that+shares+their+name+in+an+old%2C+cluttered+attic+on+Sunday%2C+May+19%2C+2024.+This+was+the+group%E2%80%99s+last+show+at+the+Bughouse+Theater.
Grace Logan
Members of the comedy sketch group “Go for Broke” begin their show with a skit about finding the board game that shares their name in an old, cluttered attic on Sunday, May 19, 2024. This was the group’s last show at the Bughouse Theater.

“Cash Cab” — that was the winning idea DePaul junior Elissa Bartkowski brought to her first rehearsal for the sketch comedy group Go For Broke. It came weeks after re-watching old videos of the trivia game show and learning its history before using it as a starting point for a comedy sketch.

Over the course of multiple rehearsals and plenty of improvisation, “Cash Cab” evolved from a two-word idea into a full comedy sketch complete with a wife in labor, a husband far too invested in trivia and a questionable cabdriver. 

Regarding the weird ideas thrown around in live show rehearsals, Bartkowski said anything can happen when you have a room full of great improvisers. 

“There’s just so much you can do with little, random ideas,” Bartkowski said. “A couple of our sketches started out as just an improvised scene, but I trust my (cast mates) to pull something funny out of their back pocket, even if we really don’t have much of an idea to start with.”

The sketch comedy group started nearly two-and-a-half years ago, originally composed of DePaul students Mitchell Apse, Tanner Sells and Zach Schnitzer. Now, the group consists of Bartkowski, Apse, Sells, George Murphy and Caia Cammie.

Members of “Go For Broke” pretend to make amends, after an affair is revealed between a girlfriend and her boyfriend’s best friend on Sunday, May 19, 2024. This skit parodied Jerry Springer’s reality TV show, now hosted by his “daughter” Kerry Springer. (Grace Logan)

The group’s first creative endeavor wasn’t a small one, as they recently finished their first live show at the Bughouse Theater May 12 and 19. The show, which included the “Cash Cab” skit, was entirely written, produced and directed by the members of Go For Broke. Group members said, even with weeks of rehearsals, they pulled off the live show without doing a full run of it before its debut performance.

“We always trusted the process and trusted each other,” Sells said. “Through writing and performing the five of us just had a really good trust in each other’s instincts that made for a really cool and unique show.”

Apse said he remembers bringing in four scripts to the first rehearsal, which he had written with no one particular actor in mind. As time passed and everyone began bringing in their own unique style to the scripts, sketches became more targeted toward members’ strengths and senses of humor.

“What’s cool with that is each of these live shows is so much a reflection of just the people who are in it,” Apse said.

While some of the current members had live comedy experiences before their live show, most of their content is digital shorts on their YouTube channel.

“As we kind of moved into wanting to produce more content and wanting to take this comedy to the stage, it totally shifted forms,” Sells said. “Now writing this show and trying out a stage medium, it’s been fun to try new things.” 

Members of “Go for Broke” complete one of their last sketches during the closing night of their sketch show at Bughouse Theater on Sunday, May 19, 2024. In this skit, the group pretends to be Trojans discussing their plans to overtake the Greeks in a giant wooden horse left at the gates of Scaean. (Grace Logan)

For DePaul students like Go For Broke who are interested in comedy, Chicago’s comedy scene offers opportunities and lessons from the best. Theaters like The Second City, Annoyance Theatre & Bar and Laugh House have seen comedians such as Tina Fey, Bill Murray and Bernie Mac. 

Apse said the decision to create a live show after only doing digital shorts with the group was because of the chance to flex their “creative muscles” throughout the process.

“This is the first live show I’ve been a part of actually producing,” Apse said. “One of the coolest things about the Chicago comedy scene is there are so many sketch and improv shows where performers and writers are synonymous.”

After their live show, the members of Go For Broke said they’ll continue working on their digital content, even with a Google Drive full of unused sketches. Sells said working on their shorts will help them gain an online presence and platform to promote any future live performances.

“I heard the kids are into YouTube these days,” Apse joked.

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