Out on a Limb

Out on a Limb
Fall 2019 – The Hill – Out on a Limb

In the green room at the new Eisner Center for the Performing Arts, Burpee’s Seedy members from years past gathered in October to sign the room’s wall—a mark that they had been back to celebrate 40 years of the improv group and to dedicate the space as “The Burpee’s Seedy Green Room,” a nod to the more than $90,000 in gifts to the Eisner Center project from Burpee’s Seedy alumni—affectionately known as Burps.

Then it was on to the dedication ceremony that, in true Burpee’s Seedy fashion, included a man in a space suit as the M.C. (he revealed himself later to be Dave Gaudet ’87); a series of interviews onstage with Burps discussing how the group has evolved through the years; an original song, written and sung by Anna Huckabee Tull ’88, which ended with the famous Burpee’s Seedy catchphrase “out on a limb”; the revealing of a new Burpee’s Seedy horn, given to the current class of Burps who will use it to signal the start and end of skits in future performances; and applause for the Burpee’s Seedy founder, former professor Kevin Hoggard, chair of theatre in 1979, and two members from the very first group, Elizabeth Schnelz Rexroat ’83 and Charlie Hartsock ’83, who were in attendence at the weekend’s events.

Before the anniversary festivities came to an end, Burps from every decade gathered on Swasey’s stage for a campus performance for students, families, faculty, and staff. The show started with Hoggard, Rexroat, and Hartsock—the first Burps willing to go out on a limb back before improv was much of a thing at all. Together, they introduced the second class of Burps who made their debut in 1980—a group that included A-list actor Steve Carell ’84, who humbly addressed the excited audience and asked them to lower their expections. “You will be disappointed,” he told them.

They were not—especially when Carell delivered his famed line, “That’s what she said,” from The Office during a skit that required actors to work a phrase supplied by audience members into a scene.

One thing was certain, based on the laughter in Swasey that night, those Burps—no matter how far they were from their graduation year—have still got it.

Published December 2019