“Hello, My Name Is…”, also referred to as HMNI, is a student-run sketch comedy group driven to bring humor to their fellow students.
According to their Club Constitution, their mission is to create quality comedy, to grow their craft and entertain the community.
They operate similarly to Saturday Night Live, with a mix of both live comedy and pre-recorded, edited skits.
Although they don’t have the same budget as SNL, they have found many creative workarounds to set the atmosphere. A slideshow is prepared before every show with different graphics, sound cues, and backdrops for the live sketches.
Sponsored by Josh Chenard and overseen by co-presidents True Smith and Anders Arneson, the club is very selective, and holds annual tryouts for open positions.
“There’s a safe space that’s free for people to come and get snacks, hang out and laugh,” Smith said.
The troupe sticks to a strict two-week schedule, starting with two meetings to pitch ideas to each other and work in collaboration for their upcoming shows. This is where roles for each show are assigned to individual members, making sure that each student has a chance to star in segments.
“Pitch meetings are normally us showing different ideas, some are more fleshed out than others,” said Gabriella Pafumi, HMNI cast member and theater studies major.
The next week is dedicated to rehearsals for live sketches and recording for video sketches. Each show has roughly five sketches total, half performed in front of the live audience and the other half played on the slideshow.
Every Sunday, the two comedy groups share the spotlight and alternate, with CHAOS performing one Sunday, and HMNI the next.
That day is especially busy, with lots of last-minute preparations. From 6-7 p.m., the cast finalizes their show plan and welcomes the audience.
“Doors open, and we’re alive,” said treasurer Carson Coffey. “Talking to the audience, chatting them up, it’s a really fun environment.”
HMNI has had a positive effect on the cast members as well, and their tight-knit companionship is evident in their chemistry both on and off the stage.
“It’s been good to have the built-in friend group, the 11 of us,” Coffey said. “I feel like I’ve learned so much from everyone else.”
“If I didn’t have HMNI, I would have dropped out of school way before now,” Smith said.
In the next coming weeks, HMNI will be holding its annual A.N.T. Farm, a writer’s workshop for any and all students to participate in.
“We hold a workshop and talk about how to write a sketch, and it’s open to everyone on campus,” co- president Anders Arneson said.
The best scripts will be picked up by HMNI and the writers will be able to star in one of their upcoming shows.
“We don’t do what we do for anyone else,” Arneson said. “At the end of the day, we could have just one person in the audience, or we could have a packed house. What matters is that we’re having fun, and that we love each other, and we’re proud of the work we’re creating.”
HMNI is performing their next show on Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m. in Fraiser 249.