The Dead Parrots Society, a student improvisational comedy troupe, has won the national College Improv Tournament. The event took place in Chicago on Saturday, Feb. 26.
"It was the most amazing day of my life," says Alison Luhrs, one of the team's members. "It was really surreal. Such a rollercoaster. Absolutely exhausting in every way."
The team arrived in Chicago on Friday and had an evening to themselves to eat deep-dish pizza and talk strategy before arriving at the theater at 9 a.m. Saturday. They didn't leave until 1:30 the next morning.
"I think the entire team got about 40 minutes of sleep over the weekend," Luhrs says. "We spent a lot of time doing something we absolutely love doing."
With so little sleep and so much activity going on, all of the team members came down with a pretty nasty flu on Sunday.
"But it's OK; I've never had a flu that was so absolutely worth it," Luhrs says.
The tournament is a prestigious competition, with former participants now show regulars on Comedy Central and performing with professional improv companies.
Five members of The Dead Parrots Society competed on Nov. 13 at the Northwest Regional Improv Tournament held at the University Theatre in Seattle and took first place, qualifying the team for nationals. A total of 96 college teams competed throughout the tournament, with the top 12 competing in the all-day culminating event on Saturday.
The Dead Parrots Society was the first team not from Illinois to take the title in the tournament's history, Luhrs says.
"I guess people just assumed that they don't make funny kids anywhere else any more," she says. "We're just a bunch of hipsters from the Northwest who drink way too much coffee. I actually had someone come up to me and say that the Northwest is the unfunniest place in the country. I'm really happy to be the ones to prove them wrong."
Improv is totally made up, on the spot, Luhrs says. No planning went into any of the Dead Parrots Society's performances in the tournament.
"That's the magic of improv, being able to tell a story on the fly," she says. "We're kind of magicians in a really lame way."
All members of the Dead Parrots Society hope to make some sort of career in improv comedy, Luhrs says. It's a college hobby, but it's also a passion.
"We're all pretty much guaranteed jobs now, and that's exciting," she says. "We have a really, really shiny thing to put on our resumes now."
Overall, the experience at the tournament was a humbling one, Luhrs says.
"It was so nice to be surrounded by so many young, talented people whom you know you're going to be working with in a couple of years," she says.
In this video, Western's appearance in the finals begins roughly 35:40 into the video. The announcement of the winners begins at 2:04:00.
When the Dead Parrots Society was announced as the winner, the building erupted in cheers. The teams other members stormed the floor and everyone hugged and danced.
"Everyone was screaming, the girls were crying," Luhrs says. "It was amazing."
Founded in 1998, the team features WWU students who specialize in improvisational theatre: the fine art of performing hilarious scenes at the drop of a hat. In addition to performing regularly throughout the year at various venues in the Bellingham area, The Dead Parrots Society hosts open rehearsals each Tuesday evening at 8 p.m. in room 110 of the Humanities building on Western’s campus to help share the art of improv with the public.
To learn more about The Dead Parrots Society and their upcoming performances, please visit the Dead Parrots Society Fan Club page on Facebook.