Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Varsity Nordic: New name, same laughs

From L to R: Finn Straley '11, Allie Kerr '13, Justis James Phillips '12, Kevin Klein '11, Simi Singh '12, Cory Rand '13, Kate Potter '12. Second Row: Sam Alden '12. The Varsity Nordic improv group performs. Credit: Bullion
From L to R: Finn Straley '11, Allie Kerr '13, Justis James Phillips '12, Kevin Klein '11, Simi Singh '12, Cory Rand '13, Kate Potter '12. Second Row: Sam Alden '12. The Varsity Nordic improv group performs. Credit: Bullion

Varsity Nordic is like most college improv groups, except different.

“We don’t follow a script,” said first-year member Ailie Kerr. “We’re like instant mashed potatoes.”

Varsity Nordic has undergone some focused changes in recent times, including its infamous name change. The group shifted to long form improvisational comedy two years ago, which builds characters, stories and themes in it’s scenes. Varsity Nordic has performed regular biweekly shows this year, along with some improv workshops to help newcomers.

“We’re consistent now,” said senior member Alex Kerr.

According to Alex Kerr and other senior members, Varsity Nordic did a very limited number of performances in previous years. Being consistent with biweekly shows has allowed the group to develop a great relationship with their audience.

“We love our audience; we love you guys,” said Ailie Kerr.

And their audience has grown, partially helped by being consistent and partially because of promotion on social media like Facebook. Now that Varsity Nordic does long form improv, they feel that the audience gets more out of it, as do they.

“Short form is harder to engage in,” said Alex Kerr.

“[Short form is] a lot more limiting in what you can do in the performance,” said junior member Finn Straley. “And it’s built more about punch lines and jokes, whereas long form is really based on creating a narrative and characters and a world. It’s just a lot more interesting and a lot more fun to do.”

The performers really like the depth that long form can reach, with Alex Kerr going as far as to compare long form to “a whole improvised play.”

The group does not have major alterations planned for its future, just goals.

“I would like to see in the future branching out of the Whitman campus and doing more other campus shows and bringing in other improv groups to perform,” said sophomore member Justis James Phillips. “That way we can all learn from each other and the Whitman campus can see all the different forms of improv that we don’t necessarily do.”

However, Phillips’s goal falls more in the “it’d be nice” category rather than the “we are making this happen” category. Alex Kerr also mentioned that they are trying to get a professional improv group from Chicago to come to Whitman, but did not go into detail.

At this point, the group will continue to perform at the level expected of Whitman’s premier improv group, and not take themselves too seriously while they’re at it.

“We just want to do the best performances we possibly can,” said Straley.

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