Students took the stage with Emmy Award winner Paul Rugg this past week, learning the basics of improv comedy from the famed voice actor, writer, and producer. Rugg, who is currently the voice of Ned on the Disney+ hit show Earth to Ned, spent the evening teaching students, providing them with valuable knowledge and experience that they can use to help clean comedy make a comeback.
This was Rugg’s second visit to campus, after he spoke to students about pursuing careers in the arts, preserving their Catholic faith in Hollywood, and the growing need for Catholic, liberal arts-educated students in the film industry last fall as part of the career office’s Outside the Box speaker series.
During that visit, Rugg, joined by Studio C actor Matthew Galvan and Back to the Future actor Tom Wilson, closed the talk with a short improvisational comedy workshop. After seeing the excitement of students for the workshop, Rugg decided to focus this visit entirely on the workshop portion, offering “Fundamentals of Improvisational Comedy” for interested students.
Beginning the evening, Archbishop Alexander Sample of the Archdiocese of Portland, a close friend of Rugg’s, joined in via Skype, speaking to students about God and humor, and where we can find humor in the Bible. From there, students were invited to join Rugg on stage for a variety of games and scenes, giving them the opportunity to practice the basics of improv.
Over the course of the evening, students learned how improv can be used to develop good comedy ideas and fun comedy characters, and how improv can help with writing and hone acting skills as well. Students rushed to participate in each improv opportunity, impressing Rugg with their enthusiasm and engagement in the workshop.
Rugg’s impact on campus from both of his visits is already being felt. Thanks to his influence, an improv and sketch comedy group is now forming, giving students further opportunities to create good, clean comedy, in contrast to what is often produced in Hollywood. Rugg, whose daughter is a student at the college, encouraged Christendom students to pursue careers in Hollywood after graduation and make a positive impact in the entertainment industry.
Rugg is a three-time Emmy Award-winning actor, writer, and producer, most known for his work with Steven Spielberg’s animated shows Animaniacs and Freakazoid, where he voiced the title character. Rugg has written for a variety of shows and worked as a puppeteer with the Jim Henson Company as well, most notably on the Disney+ improv talk show Earth to Ned, where he also provides the voice of the title character.