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DTA: An insider's perspective

By Meredith Francis
On October 19, 2012

When I tell many Xavier students that I'm a member of Don't
Tell Anna (DTA) most people respond with either a "What's that?" or a "You're funny?" My response to the first question
(usually in a bureaucratic, soulless way): DTA is an improvisational comedy troupe that is not affiliated with Xavier University. We perform both long- and shortform
improv. My response to the second question: nope.
But let's get down to the boring details. DTA has been around for about 15 years. It began with a few students who wanted to do improv and, apparently, not tell some mysterious "Anna" about it. The reason we are not a club
is mostly a "let's-stick-it-to-theman!" thing. We're comedians!
We're rebels! Actually, the reason is not a self-serving, arrogant one; it is simply that we don't need funding and like to limit the number of people in the troupe. I hear that 50 people playing improv gets a little chaotic. Plus, we swear and sometimes make sex jokes. This year, Greg Gerbus is DTA's president, otherwise known as, "Most Supreme Ruler" or "King Gregory." Greg typically leads exercises
in practices. Yes, practice is necessary for improv. We like
to emphasize the "Yes, and..." aspect of improv. This means not only accepting the relationships and environments we create, but adding to them. It's annoyingly philosophical. Ask Bobby Nichols about it; he'll get all squeaky and excited.
This year, we welcomed three new members: Laura Birckhead, Paul Heintzman and Kyle Isaacs. The audition process was difficult as there is a lot of improv talent
on campus. In the end we settled on those three, and we're lucky to have them on board. Plus it's nice to have the company of another girl again. Sorry, woman. That brings me to my next point of this enthralling "inside scoop."
I have heard from several people (women included) on this campus that women can't be funny. Yeah, I really wish Tina Fey and Amy Poehler would stop writing those depressing dramas! They're dripping with non-humorous estrogen!
I have even heard specifically that "the women of DTA aren't funny because women are never funny." Okay, you don't think I'm funny. Trust me, I respect your opinion; I too find myself remarkably un-funny. But women are never funny? Tone it down, Rush Limbaugh. In DTA, gender has nothing to do with it. I have played boys in scenes, including a very poor rendition of President Obama. Chris Dobbs and David Franke have played convincing girls (a little
too convincing, gentlemen). We simply aim for good improv. The laughs usually come with the process. And if you
don't think DTA is funny in general, that's perfectly
fine. No one is forcing you to attend our shows. Improvised
comedy isn't for everyone, and you're certainly not
wasting money on it since the shows are
free. Alright, I'll get off my soapbox. If you're
looking for something fun to do on a Friday night, I would
encourage you to give DTA a try. Our next show will be at 9 p.m. this Friday in smelly Kelley Auditorium. I can't promise that we'll knock it out of the park, but from our perspective it's always a great experience. There's nothing like looking out into the 300- person crowd, made up mostly of friends in the Xavier community and hearing them laugh... hopefully.


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