Everybody has had the dream of throwing a stack of papers in the air, marching into their boss’s office and yelling, “I quit, fool!” Usually, it’s a dream shared with friends over beers on a Friday night—one that ends in a conversation about opening your own bar with a bad pun for a name.
By Monday, the dream is dead—unless you’re Caroline Hitt. The Plymouth native did, in fact, quit her job and stumble, quite gracefully, into the world of improvisation comedy.
She didn’t go out shouting profanities or throwing things in the air (or so she says), but she did leave a gig at a highly respected Minneapolis advertising agency after four years.
Hitt snagged the advertising gig straight out of college. She graduated from Providence College in Rhode Island in 2010, and dove straight into working long hours with little free time in the advertising world. She began taking improv comedy classes at Huge Theater in Minneapolis in 2012 as a way to unwind after a long day.
Then, exactly four years to the day after she began, Hitt promptly quit her job. She was burned out from the work and needed something new. Improv wasn’t really a long-term plan, but it was a fun escape.
Hitt is a natural performer. She was always the one goofing around in school, and she’s been a dancer since she was young, also taking part in high school theater at Benilde-St. Margaret’s.
With lawyer parents and two siblings pursuing careers in law, Hitt, the middle child, went in a different direction. She jokes about being a middle child as a surefire way to be set on a different path. (She adds that her family always has been supportive.) “They’re all funny people,” Hitt says. She also knows they want her to be successful, whatever that means. “I could see myself going back to a normal job someday, if for no other reason than to appease my parents,” she says.
When Hitt quit her job, she didn’t do it to specifically pursue comedy. She continued performing at Huge Theater and took classes at Brave New Workshop in Minneapolis, all while working with various comedy troupes. However, it was still just a release for her. She was also freelancing as a graphic designer and video editor, which she continues to do.
Her big break came last January when she tried out for Stevie Ray’s Comedy Cabaret. The Chanhassen-based comedy troupe caters to a more mature audience. While the act can get provocative, it stays away from the raunchier comedy many people have come to expect, especially from younger performers (incessant, unnecessary swearing or overly lewd language).
Hitt tried out for the group, not thinking she had much of a chance.
“I have no idea why they chose me,” Hitt says. “I showed up like 20 minutes late with multiple headshots in a folder, which you aren’t supposed to do as an actor. I felt like I had no idea what I was doing.”
Hitt is the youngest performer in the group, which allows her to bring a slightly different energy to the team. On occasion, her age will lead to miscommunication with her audience, although that’s pretty rare. For example, “I mentioned Snapchat once, and nobody knew what it was,” Hitt says of the social media app.
“Caroline brings an exuberant personality and a willingness to experiment,” owner and namesake Stevie Ray says. She has a liveliness that is contagious, even when specific jokes don’t resonate with the audience—something every comedian has to get used to.
Ray sees his comedy troupe as a palette of colors, with the emphasis on finding the right ones. You might find a great blue, he says, but if you already have a blue, then it won’t fit your needs. There’s a delicate balance to creating a group, particularly an improv group, and Ray knows this.
Even with her success at Stevie Ray’s, Hitt isn’t sure where comedy will take her. She doesn’t see it as a career, which is why she still works as a video editor. Performing on weekends and getting paid to do it is a pretty sweet gig, but she doesn’t see herself jumping to New York or Chicago anytime soon. For now, she continues to take classes and perform at Stevie Ray’s. Just like in improv, she’ll figure out the next step as she goes.