The Michigan Dady - Weekend etc. - Thursday, October 13, 1994 - 3
* MeL&44s P
Eight comedy para-troupers go aiving 'Without A Net'
After my first ever week of classes,
my father called and asked me what I
had learned so far. I thought for a
*noment,'and responded "euchre." "Is
that all? That's what I'm spending my
$10,000 a year on?"
And in the midst of my fourth
year, I begin to reflect on what I have
learned over the years. A few lines of
Shakespeare, a couple irregular Ital-
ian verbs and (now that I'm an R.A.)
how to hide beer from an R.A. But by
far the most important skill I've ac-
uired in college is procrastination.
I always say I am not going to
procrastinate. At the beginning of each
term, I find out when all of my papers
are due and vow to begin them a week
ahead of time. That lasts about as long
as my annual New Year's resolution
to not shop so much.
But I am an English major, and
most of the classes I take don't have
daily assignments. They're a little
more flexible than, oh, say, engineer-
Otg classes. It's more like "try to read
this book by this day," but if you
don't, chances are no one will notice.
And we're told about papers weeks,
sometimes months in advance, sup-
posedly to put off procrastinators. And
of late a lot of professors and TAs
have taken to that "give me your topic
a week before it's due" thing, another
tactic to deter possible procrastina-
ors, but the value of that preventative
easure is negligible at best.
I had my first paper due Friday for
my English 350 class. My TA, a won-
derful guy named Sean, requested that
we discuss our topics with him before
we get too attached to them. I had a
great topic: unearthing the dramatic
components inherent in Chaucer's The
Canterbury Tales. (If anyone steals it
I swear I'll sue you for libel.) But
ome Thursday night at 11 p.m. I was
till staring at a blank computer screen.
I called my friend Allison (pro-
nounced Al-lee-soon) for inspiration,
since she was in the same schooner I
was. The following is a rough tran-
script of our conversation:
MelRose: Al, have you started
your paper yet?
Allison: What time is it due?
eMR: 1 o'clock.
A: What time is it now?
MR: 11:30 p.m.
A: Plenty of time.
MR: What's your paper topic?
A: Should I play solitaire or black-
A: Never mind, I'm going to play
MR: I'm having trouble with my
topic. See, I had hoped to outline-
0'A: Damn! I got killed.
We also had a strikingly similar
conversation at 2 a.m., which lasted a
good hour and a half. I guess talking
:on the phone was my own form of
procrastination, so I conducted an in-
formal survey among Daily staffers.
And I discovered a wonderful list of
alternative procrastination methods:
i. Cable (now in the dorms!), com-
puters (games, e-mail, conferences),
calling the folks (that makes it some-
what less shameful), masturbation
(offered by one unnamed Daily edi-
tor), reading magazines (why is it I
can read an "Entertainment Weekly"
cover-to-cover yet can't read a single
Canterbury tale without stopping?),
coming to the Daily (this whole paper
is merely an exercise in procrastina-
tion) ortaking your Chia-pet for a walk
_(on a leash).
And as I sit here writing this col-
umn on Tuesday at 5 p.m. - two days
after my deadline - I am beginning
to realize that I am a procrastinator.
There, I said it. I know, there are
places I can go, and people who are
willing to help me. I'll go one of these
days. But Ican stop anytime I want to.
But maybe procrastination isn't a
problem. Consider these truths:
1. Procrastination does pay. One
*Daily News Editor put off studying
for her Bible midterm until the night
abefore, and prayed to God for help. It
worked, and she received an A-.
2. Procrastination is empowering.
As our illustrious film editor
Alexandra Twin pointed out, if you
By SARAH STEWART
The cast of the newly formed com-
edy improv group, "Without a Net,"
is all dressed up with high hopes of
going somewhere. Eight white shirts,
ties and blazers wander into rehearsal
and a wacky night of picture taking.
They'll do anything to give the Uni-
versity some laughs, even if it means
sacrificing the typical Sunday night
In the long run, they're looking
forward to sacrificing their Thursday
nights to show an audience the fruits
of all this rehearsing, because as far as
"Without a Net" is concerned, there's
no comedy on campus.
The brief history of the troupe
begins January 1994, when students
Evan Makela and Bill Lome, named
"co-conspirators of the improv mis-
sion" by fellow founder and producer,
Dan Abrams, came together to form
"One Big Happy." Their audience
throughout six shows at the U Club
grew from 80 members to 140 by the
last show in April.
With the start of the new school
year, the remaining members, Makela,
Abrams and Bob Gilliam, boasting a
new name and looking for a new start,
auditioned 35 people to fill the spots
that Barb Liss, Brooke Ingersoll, Joe
Lacey, Hobey Echlin and Tena
Gilbreath would ultimately hold.
"Without a Net" was born.
Put these eight funny people in the
same room and ask them questions
about something they love and you're
bound to get chaos. Nonetheless,
"Without a Net" does have some
straight answers to what this improv
thing is all about.
Improv's roots are in Second City,
the Chicago based troop that offers
improv classes to teach the art, per-
forms nightly and boasts the start of
such "Saturday Night Live" greats as
John Belushi, Bill Murray and Gilda
"Second City was the first to per-
form improvisational comedy as a
theater form in its own right, instead
of as an actor's exercise. We con-
tinue that tradition," Makela, the
troupe's director, said.
Stressing the fact that neither the
audience or the performers know what
will come next, Abrams said, "There's
quite literally nothing like live improv
comedy. It's so in the moment. The
audience appreciates that we're all
writers, directors and performers."
In one rehearsal scene, set in Zim-
babwe, Makela played a surgeon and
Liss a Canadian "foreigner."
"From that it developed into oper-
ating on Bob as an enormous frog
with flatulence. And it was funny,"
Makela said as an afterthought.
Since they have no prepared script,
just a series of starter "games" to get
the scenes started, "Without a Net"
relies on the audience for suggestions
and more importantly, support.
Makela moaned as he described
the "One Big Happy" show that un-
luckily came right after the Michigan
basketball team's overtime victory
"If there's a good audience, you
can do no wrong," he said. "If there's
a dead audience, you can't do any-
thing. After the Pepperdine game, the
audience was dead."
Because "Without a Net" is fueled
by audience suggestions (they'll ask
for anything from an object, to a fic-
tional song title, to a place where two
people meet) they run the risk of com-
ing across that one guy in the second
row who has nothing but raunchy sex
on his mind.
"We'd prefer it if their minds were
up here," Abrams said as he held his
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hand above his head. "But we can
deal with it if they're down here."
Like anything else, each member
of "Without a Net" seems to have
their own motives for choosing to
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