The Humor Artists of Notre Dame will host their “100th Anniversary Show” Friday in Washington Hall. Humor Artist alumni will participate in the performance, which will be the first show of its kind in the group’s history.
“No one has been able to discover the exact year an improvisation group began on Notre Dame’s campus, so we like to assume that the Humor Artists have been a Notre Dame club since the school was first formed,” the group’s co-president Sawyer Williams said.
Given the group’s uncertain establishment date, a 100th Anniversary show seemed like a “logical timeframe” for the group, co-president Henry Long said. However, the group does have a general timeframe of its foundation.
“We know that some of the oldest club members performed at Notre Dame before we were born, and many alumni have continued to perform professionally ever since,” Williams said.
Long said that the oldest known alum graduated in 1996, and the oldest alumni performing on Friday graduated in 2000.
“Through Facebook, we were able to find many Humor Artist alumni, and discovered that several past members of the troupe still carry close relationships with one another,” Long said.
On the group’s Facebook page, alumni have shared improvisation ideas, past techniques, sketches and stories from their time at Notre Dame, Williams said.
“We realized that online, many alumni had re-formed old relationships, and many have even return to campus together for short visits,” Long said.
The Humor Artists decided to create an event to reunite alumni and form connections with current members.
“Our show will feature a number of classic improv games that will mix alumni and current members. Some of the alumni are good friends, and some have never met,” Long said.
Many Humor Artist alums have remained close friends, including two couples who met through their participation in the group, Williams said.
“Through this show, we’ll be able to see members who were best friends in college, who performed in shows together for years, and provide them an opportunity to do this again along with new members who have followed in their footsteps,” Long said.
Friday’s show will present both short-form and long-form improvisation with the alumni and current members.
“Some of the games we plan to play won’t be familiar to the alumni, because they were invented after their graduation, so the show will definitely be full of surprises,” Long said.
Unlike most college improvisation clubs, which remain prominent for about five to ten years, the Humor Artists have maintained their presence on campus for at least 20 years.
“We are one of the few college improvisation groups in the country that has carried on its tradition for this many years,” Williams said.
The tight knit community and longstanding legacy of the club inspired the anniversary performance.
“We are bringing several alumni back for a collaborative show to understand how the club has evolved over the years,” Williams said.
Many Humor Artist alumni have become successful in a wide variety of professional fields beyond comedy, Long said.
“We have a large number of alumni who are exceeding in both creative and academic fields,” he said.
For instance, two alumni are attending Harvard Law and the University of Chicago Law, and many are prominent attorneys, according to Long. Other alumni have become successful researchers, one is an up-and-coming playwright in Los Angeles, and others continue to perform improv with prestigious comedy companies around the nation including 2nd City, Upright Citizens, and Improv Olympics.
Currently, the Humor Artists has 34 members, which has been the largest troupe thus far.
“We know that over 200 students have been in Humor Artists cumulatively, 70 of which are on the alumni Facebook page. 14 of these alumni are returning for the Anniversary Show,” Long said.