24 hours of improv and 4 years with a new ‘family’

English Get Involved Journalism
September 1, 2022

Each year, Burpee’s Seedy Theatrical Company, the nation’s longest-running collegiate improv comedy troupe, holds a 24-hour marathon to raise money for a good cause. Bridget Welch ’22 gave us an insider view of those 24 hours — and of her four years with her Burpee family.

Welch is an English creative writing major with a minor in narrative journalism. She plans to go into the entertainment industry.

“Joining the Burpee’s is like joining a family on campus. (And it’s pretty cool being part of a group with Steve Carell ’84).”

This weekend might be the last time in my life I attempt to stay up for 24 hours straight.

I’ve done it two times before. As a member of Denison’s improv troupe, the Burpee’s, sleep deprivation is tradition — it is simply a part of one of our favorite shows of the year: the Burpee’s Annual 24-Hour Improv Show.

Between us, the Burpee’s presence on campus is one of the main reasons I chose to attend Denison. As an anxious first-year, I wouldn’t have told anyone (to spare myself the embarrassment if I didn’t make it), but I was set on auditioning for the group from my first day on The Hill four years ago. No — even before that! I was set on auditioning after I saw the group perform at an admitted students event during my senior year of high school.

Luckily for me, I made the cut. Improv is where I found my people. I know it sounds cheesy, but the practice is so vulnerable. When you agree to open up, be the weirdest version of yourself, and say “yes” to a group of individuals, you bond.

The 24-Hour Show is a bonding experience on steroids. Obviously, it’s like a big sleepover, which is probably the number one way to get close to your friends. But also, it’s a big opportunity to work toward a common goal. It works like this:

The Burpees choose an organization to raise money for.

Audience members donate to make suggestions for our improv scenes.

We lose a lot of sleep.

We have a lot of fun.

Another cool thing about being a Burpee: The alumni are so supportive, and we keep in touch. Burpee’s alumni donate to the cause and they relive their experiences too, talking about how they “happily torture” themselves to “entertain a few brave audience members.” As a current member, I read that as a sarcastic way of admitting they just liked spending time with each other, a clever way of saying they love each other. I can attest that this banter lives on today.

Joining the Burpees is like joining a family on campus. (And it’s pretty cool being part of a group with Steve Carell 84). It’s hard to believe that I won’t be flailing around on Denison stages next year, or staying up 24 hours in a row to make a difference with my best friends.

I’m not sure what my life will look like without practice twice a week and frequent performances around every corner of campus. It will be hard to say goodbye, but I know I will always be a part of the widespread Burpee’s community, long after my last bow on The Hill.