Duke University Improv records, 1997 - 2001

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Duke University Improv
Duke University Improv is an improvisational comedy group composed of Duke students. The group formed in 1997. Records include printed e-mail correspondence, photographs, scripts, clippings, publicity fliers, and rosters. Major subjects include Duke University student activities, entertainment at Duke University, improvisational comedy, and acting. Materials range in date from 1997 to 2001. English.
1 Linear Foot
1,000 Items
Collection ID:
University Archives Record Group:
31 -- Student/Campus Life
31 -- Student/Campus Life > 07 -- Student Organizations – Music, Theatre, and Performance


Scope and content:

Contains printed email correspondence, photographs, clippings, publicity fliers, scripts, and a rosters of the Duke University Improv comedy group from 1997-2000.

Biographical / historical:

Duke University Improv, an improvisational comedy group made of Duke University undergraduates, was formed in February 1997, after a dormitory talent show on East Campus. In late 1996, East Campus held an "East Campus Extravaganza" at Reynolds Theater in the Bryan Center. Each dormitory on East Campus was to showcase its talent for the show; judges would award a pool table to the winners. Members of Gilbert-Addoms dormitory created a "mock-appella" group to enter the contest and sing parodies of the Speak of the Devil and Pitchfork songs. During preparation for this event, Sean Loughlin and Matt Kolavick met Cason Carter; the three became part of a 10-person group. The group claims to have not prepared much for the show, but their performance captivated the audience and they won the pool table for Gilbert-Addoms dormitory. One song, "Breakfast at The Marketplace", was a hit that would resurface in later performances.

After the East Campus Extravaganza, several residents in Gilbert-Addoms and Randolph (plus one person from Alspaugh) talked during the year about creating an improvisational comedy group. They were impressed by the television show "Whose Line is it Anyway" and Duke University orientation week's Comedy Spots. In February 1997, John Grant and Sean Loughlin called a meeting in Gilbert-Addoms hall. The founding eight members of Improv were: Harris Brodsky, Cason Carter, John Grant, Scott Hecker, Sean Loughlin, Matt Kovalick, Porter Mason, and Nupur Mehta.

The new group called themselves DUI: Duke University Improv and claim to have had some rough beginnings. But by spring 1997, DUI performed ten times on campus and conceived the idea for the Big Show, a successful variety and benefit show. Porter Mason, Scott Hecker, and Cason Carter were discussing their families and discovered that cancer had affected them all. DUI was doing well financially, and with no costs, they could produce a benefit show that they would call the "Big Show". All proceeds would be donated to the Scott Carter Foundation for Cancer Research in memory of Cason's brother, Scott, who died from bone cancer. Over the next three years, Improv produced three Big Show events and raised approximately $25,000 for cancer research. Improv made two trips to Tulsa, Oklahoma to perform in benefit shows and present checks to the Scott Carter Foundation for Cancer Research.

Additional performances were a Big Show III sell-out in Page Auditorium featuring local celebrities, Christmas Shows, Mystery Shows, and Duke Parent's Weekend shows. Improv also made their mark on the Duke University campus in The Chronicle as the subjects of many letters to the editor and an in-person comedy showdown with "Monday, Monday" columnists, The Tossed Salad Men. In the community, Improv performed for the Durham Academy, television's Cable 13 channel, and students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Virginia, and Georgetown University.

As of 2003, DUI is currently active on campus and continues to perform the Big Show and well as a new Little Big Show.

Acquisition information:
The Duke University Improv Records was received by the University Archives as a transfer in 2000.
Processing information:

Processed by Emily Glenn

Completed January 2003

Encoded by Jill Katte, September 2003

Physical location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult University Archives, Duke University.
Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.

Improvisation (Acting)
Duke University Improv
Duke University Improv
Duke University -- Students


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In accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 as amended, Duke University permits students to inspect their education records and limits the disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Duke University Improv Records, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.