Funny business a specialty for Shepard grad
BY CHERYL DANGEL BARTOLINI Correspondent June 1, 2012 11:54AM
Samantha Hilger, 18, of Worth, is a senior at Shepard High School. The aspiring actress and comedienne hopes to enroll at Second City after completing her general education requirements at Moraine Valley Community College. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 6, 2012 8:37AM
It might sound contradictory, but Samantha Hilger is serious about comedy.
“Making someone laugh is the best feeling in the world,” said Hilger, who recently completed her senior year at Shepard High School in Palos Heights. “Making them feel laughter is the coolest feeling ever. Something about it just makes you feel really good.”
But Hilger, 18, is serious about competing, with comedy being her “game” of choice. This past school year, she competed in humorous interpretation as part of Shepard’s speech team and became the South Suburban Conference champion. She also won first place at several invitationals, and was a regional champ in two categories: humorous interpretation and original comedy.
“I just enjoy the atmosphere,” Hilger said of competition. “I’ve become comfortable in front of crowds and have learned to be comfortable with myself.”
Hilger, whose role models are comediennes Carol Burnett and Tina Fey, said, “I see things in an absurd way so I guess I have an absurdist type of humor.”
She was a member of Shepard’s Improv Army for all four years of high school, and was a featured performer several times and honed her comedy skills for two years running at Shepard’s annual Comedy Night.
“There is no script. You do everything off the top of your head,” Hilger said. “The goal is to make people laugh, so we do shows about four to five times a year.”
Hilger also has performed at Shepard’s Arts Extravaganza and the Teen Comedy Fest in Chicago.
“Improvisation is my favorite hobby. It keeps the stress away and keeps you in a good mood,” she said. “You learn to trust a group of people and work off of them. That’s a real nice feeling.”
As a senior, she also worked as a sideline reporter for live webcasts of Shepard athletic events.
“It was my first year in the TV production program. It was really cool,” said Hilger, who announced primarily for football and soccer games. “I put in the color commentary. It is like any regular game where they talk about the game while it happens and make jokes.”
Not surprising, Hilger, a resident of Worth and the daughter of Gerald Hilger and Deanna Makrola, aspires to be an actress, comedienne or performer. Her immediate plans include taking comedy classes at Chicago’s Second City and performing at improv clubs.
She plans to attend Moraine Valley Community College and hopes to enroll next year in a college in Los Angeles to pursue a degree in acting.
Mentoring her along the way has been her teacher and speech coach at Shepard, Eric Kallenborn.
“He has helped me develop my sense of humor. He helped me write skits and stuff for speech,” she said.
She also looked up to Mike Dozier, a substitute teacher at Shepard last year who helped out with the speech team.
“He is the most supportive person who has ever helped me with anything. He directs movies and stuff and talked to me about those things,” she said.
Family and friends help her focus on her goals.
“Doing what I love also helps,” she said. “Speech, performing and improv are pretty important to me. I like school but I do better in school because I want to do better when I perform.”