What do improv comedy and politics have in common? Aside from the late night talk shows on Comedy Central, speaking on your toes with confidence is a skill that resonates far in the world of both comedy and political communications.
Lauren E. Cross graduates May 9 from CU-Boulder with a degree in political science and minor in economics, leaving her legacy with CU Student Government and the campus comedy improv group, Left Right Tim. A Colorado native, Cross sees herself sticking around Boulder for a little while before venturing to a place that offers a scene for politics as well as comedy.
Cross found Left Right Tim her freshman year, before the group “completely took over” her college lifestyle, and after working with the Obama Campaign in 2012, she wanted to be more involved with politics on campus. Throughout this past year, Cross has been director of communications for CUSG.
Since joining Left Right Tim, Cross met comedy crew members every Friday at 8 p.m. in Hale 270, where they'd ask the audience for a word and would then “just go for an hour.” In addition to Friday performances, Left Right Tim meets every Sunday and Wednesday to practice skill-building and drills to keep them thinking on their toes, with “unfiltered” responses.
Passionate about both politics and drama, Cross sees herself somewhere between political advance work and political communications. Political advance work encompasses all of the “theatrics” of a campaign, or the management of lighting, staging and timing for a political rally or speech, in order to amplify specific campaign messages. While working for the Obama campaign, Cross mainly organized field work and volunteer recruitment, but she also worked with celebrity surrogates and helped plan meet and greet events with a presentation. Cross said her campaign experience was “completely life-changing.”
With CUSG, Cross has had even more opportunity to apply a range of skills outside the classroom. As director of communications, she managed to get her nose into a little bit of everything.
“I do all of the social media, the Twitter, the Facebook," said Cross. "I do a lot of content publication and publicity… press releases and official statements." She also helps draft articles for CU-Boulder Today newsletters, and has written opinion pieces for the Colorado Daily.
“Communications is an odd job,” said Cross. “It’s kind of like a loose diagnosis on how to be a catch all.”
After graduation, Cross looks forward to spending a little more time in Boulder, going to the farmer’s market, enjoying the company of her friends and getting involved with some of the upcoming local elections. She hopes to work or volunteer for a congressional campaign this summer.
“I don't foresee myself participating in the field work long term, but there is an addictive quality inherit to campaigns that is a bit hard to shake,” said Cross.
In the long term, Cross imagines moving on to a place where she can fuse her professional pursuits with comedy. Her ultimate dream job is writing for a political satire program, and one place she has in mind is Chicago.
“They’ve got a pretty spectacular improv and comedy scene down there,” said Cross. “As well as the fact it’s an actual city. So I could certainly be involved in the political realm and still be surrounded by the improv I love.”
Photo courtesy Lauren Cross.