Rice Pilaf graduates four seniors and prepares to give back - The Echo News
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Rice Pilaf graduates four seniors and prepares to give back

What is next for this comedy group

By Carly Wheeler| Contributor

Rice Pilaf, Taylor’s improvisational comedy group, is known for the crazy games and bellowing laughter experienced at each show.

These witty performers put on Rice Pilaf, an improv show that has the audience laughing hysterically every time.

In a couple weeks, Rice Pilaf will say goodbye to its four senior members: Marissa Gabel, Nathan Mortensen, Max Partain and Paje Smiley.

Gabel and Partain are the co-captains of Rice Pilaf, and they reflected on how they first came to join the group.

“The only reason I knew about Rice Pilaf is I was friends with someone who was in it my freshman year,” Gabel said. “I would go to see it all the time, and then at the end of my sophomore year I was like, ‘Sure, why not? I’ll just try out and see how that goes.’ And I got in and it was super great.”

Gabel recalled some of the best advice given to her at the start of her time in Rice Pilaf: abide by the rule of thirds — don’t go with your first or second thought, but go with your third thought — and never say no.

During her second year in Rice Pilaf, she began co-leading with Partain. She loves the way the group can be loud together and learn to step forward and listen to one another.

Partain first auditioned for Rice Pilaf his sophomore year as a joke, by the prodding of Smiley. When he was unexpectedly selected to be the host, it was the last thing he wanted to do.

“I was terrified from that point on,” Partain said. “And I cried after the first show, just like, in tears. I hated it, I thought I did terribly. I did not enjoy Rice Pilaf until, like, a year in, probably. Then I just started loving it.”

Now at the end of his journey in Rice Pilaf, Partain and the rest of the group are training sophomore Naomi Noyes to take over as the new host this fall.

Partain and Gabel admire the unique strengths each member contributes to Rice Pilaf and are confident in their preparation for next year. They hope for Rice Pilaf’s future to include hosting workshops with people outside of the group, being more involved with the Taylor community and continuing to strive for excellence in improvisation.

“I just want it to do so well all the time,” Gabel said. “I want it to be like a staple to, once a month, there’s a Rice Pilaf show. You have like a dollar in a jar that you save away for your Rice Pilaf — your four quarters. We just want people to come out and laugh and participate with us.”

The last show of the year will be during finals week, called: Rice Pilaf Gives Back. This show is traditionally when Rice Pilaf gives their proceeds to bless others.

Sophomore Abigail Gonzalez and junior Cameron Hawkins practice a skit while freshman Josh Farrell looks on, stifling a giggle.

Past recipients of Rice Pilaf’s generosity have included Wycliffe and Taylor’s Peru spring break trip.

“The dollar that everyone’s been giving us, we’ll give back to them,” Gabel said. “And then with the remaining money, we like to donate to some kind of fundraising trip or charity.”

Rice Pilaf Gives Back will be senior-focused and held on the Tuesday of finals week at 9 p.m.

Rice Pilaf Seniors

Max Partain, film and media production — Most likely most likely to confuse the alphabet when making a joke, most likely to say that orangatang starts with an “A.”

Paje Smiley, elementary education — Most likely to make a depressing joke that’s really funny.

Nathan Mortensen, interpersonal and public communications — Most likely to smell good and most likely to scream during practice.

Marissa Gabel, elementary education — Most likely to be seen communicating with Partain during the show and to use any type of Minnesotan or New Jersey accent.


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