Daphne Reynolds, Staff Writer
Notre Dame’s famous improvisors strike again, bringing tears of laughter that could soak even the thickest November beard
The Humor Artists’ (HA) “No SHAve November” performance brought joy to an over-worked campus this month—without doubt, a task of Herculean proportions, given the seemingly endless workload of November.
The show featured such classic games as “Stand and Deliver” and “Freeze.” HA is an almost purely improvisational group, with the only rehearsed performance being the “Dr. Albatross’ Magic Beard-Growing Serum” advertisement (done in a voice strongly reminiscent of Roz from Monsters, Inc.). About a dozen of the 35 to 40 members of the group took part in “No SHAve November,” while the rest sported fantastic artificial facial hair.
“No SHAve November” was a personal event for many members, especially Humor Artists co-president Stephen “Paco” Elser, since it allowed him to keep the rather impressive beard that he has been cultivating. The Arizona native has been in the group for his whole Notre Dame career, and broke down the process of preparation for the Rover:
“We have practice twice a week for two hours at a time. [Co-president] Alec [Vanthournout] and I will then look at attendance (you need to have good attendance to be cast in a show), and then we’ll talk about who’s been doing well at practice, who works well together, who has enough experience. We cast people based on how prepared they are, and it generally takes about an hour to do the cast list. Our secretary prepares the short sketches at the beginning.”
Emily Dargen, a sophomore in McGlinn who hails from the Los Angeles area, was the Humor Artist who performed the “Dr. Albatross’ Magic Beard-Growing Serum” ad at the start of the show.
“We have a theme for every Legends show, and we usually try to tie that into a beginning skit. Our last show’s theme was ‘That’s How I Beat SHAq,’ where somebody rapped,” she explained. “The theme only really has anything to do with the very beginning, and we try to put in our initials, HA. We’re big on wordplay.”
When asked whether she learned to do such a spectacular Roz imitation for the piece, she laughed and replied, “No, I actually was messing around with that voice during practice one day, and they decided that it would be great to use in a show.”
Both Humor Artists agree that the overall style of the group is easily described as whimsical, and the group tries to keep it pretty clean—with the exception of crowd favorites such as “Stand and Deliver.”
“We’ve been to venues where we’ve seen other groups perform, where it tends to be pretty low-brow,” Paco says, “HA as a whole is a very silly group, and when we come together and share ideas, it all becomes very amplified and strange, and, you know, hilarity ensues. We have no problem making fools of ourselves, which is good.”
Performers generally try to stay away from political jokes or excessive innuendos during shows in an effort to appeal to every member of the audience, instead drawing from a wide variety of humor and roles—though Dargen finds herself playing a mother all too often.
For those who have not yet been to a HA performance, it is definitely worth your while. The group usually performs on the first Thursday of every month at Legends, with at least one show per month. In the spring the group will present “HAlftime,” where they write and present an original play with the a capella group Halftime.
Daphers “Laughers” Reynolds is a sophomore economics major with a sense of humor so dry it has offended people who don’t even speak English. You can contact her at email@example.com.