Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 9
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Chicago improv artists put on workshop, performance

Prison jokes, religion jokes, homosexual jokes, drug jokes, handicapped jokes, cancer jokes and old person jokes scattered the sketch of Miles Stroth and Dan Bakkedahl, two improvisational comedians brought to campus on Saturday, April 12. Although breaking many of the rules of Whitman’s politically correct environment, they were received by a full house, non-stop laughter and cheers.

Stroth started in Chicago at Second City, a nationally renowned comedy theater and school, that launched the careers of John Belushi, Mike Myers, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner and others. After two years of training, he moved to the Improv Olympic or i.O., another well known Chicago based theater and the start of Sroth’s “long form” education. Stroth is now a teacher and comedian at the i.O. Theater in Los Angeles.

Bakkedahl also started at Second City as a member of their touring company and later moved to the i.O. to pursue a new outlet for improv. It was at the i.O. that Stroth and Bakkedahl met and formed the two-man show ZUMPF. Bakkedahl eventually went back to Second City to perform on their main stage, but has been most widely recognized for his role as a “Daily Show” correspondent from 2005 to 2007.

The two comedians use “long form improv,” where they get one suggestion from the audience and explore the suggestion through a connecting series of scenes. This is unlike the “short form,” which is structured in shorter, three to seven minute games.

“Chicago is where they turned it into a performance piece, they were some of the first to take this long form and change some of the rules,” said senior Theatre Sports member Ben Kegan. “Now they are regarded as some of the best improvisers there are.”

Stroth and Bakkedahl were brought to campus by CAB and Theatre Sports, with the support of Chuck Cleveland’s office. Theatre Sports worked with the i.O. theater a few years ago and suggested bringing the comedians.

“We’ve always heard really good things. When we were in Chicago their names kept being dropped,” Kegan said.

In conjunction with the show Saturday night, Stroth and Bakkedahl gave a workshop for Theatre Sports members earlier in the day.

“We got our asses kicked,” sophomore Theatre Sports member Alex Kerr said. “We would get up on stage and they would basically tell us how everything we did was wrong.”

Kegan said he hoped the workshop would be something the campus could see the results of.

The show itself was a little less than an hour long and was inspired by the suggestion: “I wander lonely as a cloud.” The scenes that followed ranged from pieces following two hikers in Germany, a janitor with poor grades, two guys trying to make smoke rings and a gender-confused ex-con.

“In my experience when you see two-person shows you’re just kind of amazed that it is made up. They’ll be really in touch with what each other are saying. They just don’t let anything go, it’s remarkable,” Kegan said.

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