Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 8
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Varsity Nordic to partner with Delta Gamma for this year’s 24-hour marathon fundraiser

Photo Credit : Cornelius

It’s time, once again, for 24-hour improv. Next Friday, May 7, starting at 6 p.m. and going until  6 p.m. Saturday, Varsity Nordic will be performing improv in Olin 130 as part of its annual fundraiser for Blue Mountain Heart-To-Heart, a local non-profit providing support to people living with HIV/AIDS. Throughout the night the group will be accepting donations and selling refreshments; there will also be chances for audience members to win prizes.

However, some aspects of the event will be slightly differently this year.

First of all, the improv is going to be split into two-hour blocks, each of which will be directed by a different team member. Each hour will also have a theme. The themes will be chosen during the event, but possible examples include: Pokemon, “children’s hour,” pirates and Jack Kerouac, according to Varsity Nordic.

Varsity Nordic is also teaming up with the Delta Gamma sorority, which will cover organizational aspects of the fundraiser this year, such as advertising and selling refreshments. In past years, Varsity Nordic has encountered difficulties in attempting to put on a 24-hour show and fundraise at the same time. Accordingly, members of the comedy group have had a much easier time preparing for the event this year with the extra help.

“In the past we had the whole team split up and try and to do advertising and we are just bad at that,” said sophomore Sam Alden. “Improv is kind of the only thing that we seem to be able to do really well.”

In addition to items donated by downtown Walla Walla businesses, prizes will include personalized “goody bags,” which senior Alex Kerr described as “a grab bag of cool foods and toys and things from downtown thrown into a bag, along with custom stuff from the person who’s coaching. So whatever it is they love or like they’ll throw in there, notes to you, stuff from their garbage can (probably not), things from their attic . . .”

The main difference from previous years, according to Kerr, who has been with the group since his freshman year, is the level of audience participation.

“We’re making it more personal for the audience,” said Kerr. “So there’s more prizes you can win where you come onstage, you decide what we play, you decide what the themes are and there’s more things to win.”

Alden gave an example of an audience request from last year’s show.

“Somebody paid [senior Alex Cassidy and junior Kevin Klein] $20 to have them make out onstage as dinosaurs,” Alden recalled.

“There’s been some talk about maybe having a $20 ‘insert a makeout scene’ option but it’s still up in the air. It might not be kosher,” said Alden.

Part of what gets the group through the night is the audience, which, contrary to what one might think, never disappears entirely.

“I remember one guy stayed for 24 hours, staying in the same spot,” said Alden. “We’re never performing to an empty auditorium; there’s always a few guys there even at four in the morning, which is just like the poop hour.”

Kerr, a three-year veteran of the event, noted that performing throughout the duration of the event was tricky.

“I think the key to surviving the whole 24 hours is to keep yourself well-fed and consistently- but not overly-caffeinated,” said Kerr. “It’s rarely the middle of the night that gets you. I usually fall asleep sometime around 8 a.m. if I do fall asleep, so it’s really important to consistently caffeinate yourself, but also let your mind go ’cause somewhere around 10 a.m. you stop making sense and all of the scenes get really, really absurdist.”

Sophomore Grace Evans observed this degeneration over the course of the event when she attended last year. She stopped in at various points throughout the twenty-four hours.

“By two or three in the morning: I don’t know if they were mainlining coffee at that point: they had sort of snack pile set up in a corner of the room and some of the members had sleeping bags and were camped out napping under the stage,” said Evans.

Nevertheless, according to Evans, the group remained funny: although the type of humor changed. In the beginning, the group had started out following organized, structured forms.

“Five, six, seven hours later they’re not necessarily following the forms anymore and it’s just whatever comes out of their mouths,” Evans said. “It’s sometimes funny because it’s actually funny, and sometimes funny because it’s like, ‘What are they actually talking about?'”

Kerr reiterated that this year’s performance will be unique.

“If there’s one year to go it’ll be this year, because there’ll be more food, drinks, prizes and ways to get involved,” said Kerr. “It’s as audience-oriented as we’ve ever been.”

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