Director Luke Miller observed the conversation, offered his own feedback and critiques and then paused to ask how the CHiPs were feeling — not about their performance but about life in general.
The exchange highlights Miller’s self-described dichotic nature — at one moment a driven, focused director and the next an interested, caring friend.
A junior economics and business major, Miller splits time between CHiPs, Student Television’s sketch comedy show “Off the Cuff,” a full courseload and consulting club.
“I love doing creative stuff, producing videos, being on stage and joking with friends, but there’s an academic, business-focused side of me that I like to engage too,” Miller said.
Miller begins his Tuesdays at Kenan-Flagler Business School. When class lets out around noon, he makes his way to the Pit to promote Friday’s show with fellow CHiPs.
The routine of handing out fliers becomes a performance in itself, as Miller — perpetually smiling — attaches a quick quip to each piece of paper. He wishes a girl poring over a notebook luck on her upcoming test, asks a passing student about her food from Panera Bread and shrugs off those who pay him no mind with a joke.
Nearby, Connor Sturgis, a junior CHiP, interacts with students and pushes fliers despite the overcast weather. Sturgis said Miller’s intelligence manifests itself both in the classroom and onstage.
“There are a bunch of different types of players when you do improv, and Luke is incredibly internally smart,” Sturgis said. “My thing is emotionally playing, but his is so intelligent. His mind is so different in a good way.”
After an afternoon of promotion in the Pit, Miller returns to his schoolwork. Before rehearsal at 8 p.m., Miller has a full plate of homework, a business school practice interview and a peer consulting appointment. And despite this full schedule, Miller brings unabashed exuberance to practice.
The group transitions from written sketches to improv games while Miller provides critique between takes. He challenges his fellow CHiPs and questions them about the keys to the game at hand. Before diving into a written sketch, Miller advises the CHiPs.
“Remember to remember your lines,” he said.
Bobby Decker, a junior preparing for his first CHiPs show, was coached by Miller on the CHiPs incubator team. He said Miller provides sound practical and comedic direction for the group.
“You’re out there to have fun, and people are there to watch you have fun. And Luke is great at balancing the specific day-to-day things and the bigger, artistic picture we’re trying to create,” Decker said.
When the CHiPs take to the stage on Friday night, the charismatic character version of Miller will be ready to provide the anxious crowd with a bit of comic relief and an inimitable show.
According to Miller, this is the best part of improv.
“We always open the show by saying, ‘We’re going to do some improv for you. What you’re about to see has never been done before and will never be done again,’” Miller said.
“And so it’s exclusive in that way, and I think that’s such a cool thing that bonds the audience together.”