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Don't Tell Anna: History in comedy

By Joe carriere
On August 31, 2011

At the start of every new school year, students are always looking for entertaining things to do and see.

For those of you who like the goofy, offbeat antics of improv comedy, Don't Tell Anna (DTA) might just be the amusing distraction you need to get away from the daily tedium of classes, homework and all your pre-planned routines. DTA is an all-student, improv comedy group made up of about ten members. They perform every four weeks—typically in Kelly Auditorium in Alter Hall—using viral Facebook campaigns and quirky posters to promote their shows so it is easy for the students to hear about their next performance. Their first show of the year was last Wednesday, Aug. 24 and nearly every seat in the auditorium was filled, as they were for every show in the 2010-11 school year. DTA hasn't always packed the seats, however, a fact which Luke Giberson, the current leader of the group, remembers well. Giberson has been performing with DTA for three years, and when he started, the audience never seemed to contain more than 50 members. DTA has built up a sort of cult following at the University in the past couple years, and they also draw a lot of curious first-years to their first few shows. "We're really popular now; this is an exciting time for us," Giberson says. The group has had many exciting times, and an interesting history to boot. DTA was started over thirteen years ago by a small group of students with an itch for improv. Don't Tell Anna was not the original name of the group; it was called Ha Ha Hoff, in honor of late Xavier president James Hoff, S.J. Their following was small in the  beginning, but the group soon gained popularity, which did not sit well with the group's faculty advisor, Anna. The members of Ha Ha Hoff wanted to continue performing, but did not want Anna to be involved anymore, so they changed their rehearsal times and didn't tell Anna about any of their shows. It was during this time they adopted their current name, Don't Tell Anna, but there's no longer a need for the group to be secretive, as Anna left the university several years ago. DTA's first show of the year was packed, and though the group was down three members due to graduation, they still stumbled, screamed, cried and laughed their way through a fun-filled hour of unpredictability. The crowd was very energetic when the group came onto the stage, and the group played a variety of improv games as they fielded ideas from the audience. Some of the scenes were hilarious, some fell a bit flat, but one thing was for certain, DTA took the audience to places they never expected to go. This is the draw of improv, says Giberson. "It's the joy of being able to go somewhere you don't go in everyday life." This year's group is still coming into its own, as the current members are adapting to fill the absence left by three recently graduated members. However, DTA will be in full force with two of three new members at its next show (auditions were held earlier this week), and things will only get crazier when that happens —which, in the business of improv, is a very good thing.

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