Duke University Improv

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Duke University Improv (DUI)
Formation 1990s
Type Theatre group
Purpose Improv
Website http://dukeuniversityimprov.com/

Duke University Improv (DUI) is Duke University's official improvisational comedy troupe.

About the Group[edit]

Humble Beginnings[edit]

DUI was founded by a handful of freshmen in the fall of 1996. There have been over 50 members in DUI's history, with alumni spanning the globe and many still performing. Some of its alums are members of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York, while others are members of The Second City and iO (formerly ImprovOlympic) in Chicago. DUI performs roughly 40 improv shows per year for packed crowds. A typical show includes 10-12 short-form improv “games” similar to those performed on the television show Whose Line Is It Anyway?. Some of DUI’s larger shows also include a mix of long-form improv scenes, scripted sketch comedy, and videos. The most well known of these shows is the aptly named Big Show, offering an evening of top-quality entertainment to a consistently sold-out crowd of about 1,200 people in Duke’s Page Auditorium. Big Show has become famous for incorporating various campus and national celebrities, including basketball stars Shane Battier, Jason Williams, Nolan Smith, Lance Thomas, Kyle Singler, Jon Scheyer, ESPN announcer Dick Vitale, and Duke President Richard Brodhead. In addition to its performances across campus, DUI has also performed in venues in New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Rise to Fame[edit]

In the fall of 2007, sparked by an abundance of creative ideas and several members who were interested in filmmaking, DUI decided to produce original online content for their website and YouTube channel. The first video, "Gay Dumbledore Gimme More", was a breakthrough success both on campus and across the country. DUI’s second online video was "My New Haircut: Asian Edition", a Far East-themed parody of the popular “My New Haircut” video. This video quickly became a viral video sensation on YouTube and across the Internet, spawning dozens of other “Haircut” parodies. The video amassed over 2 million views in its first three months, and to date has been viewed by over 5 million people worldwide. As a result of these and other online videos, DUI has been featured in The New York Times Magazine and Sports Illustrated blogs.

Giving Back[edit]

Shortly after DUI began performing regularly on campus, the group was presented with the question of what to do with the money they were raising from their performances. Several of the members’ lives had been touched by cancer. Scott Carter, younger brother of Cason Carter, a founding member of DUI, had died in 1993 after a three-year battle with bone cancer. His parents had founded the Scott Carter Foundation for Pediatric Cancer Research, and it was unanimously decided that DUI would donate every dollar that it ever raised to this cause. Each August, DUI presents the Foundation with a check at the annual Scott Carter’s Heroes Golf Classic in Tulsa, Oklahoma. All proceeds raised through its performances, approximately $10,000 per year, are donated to the Scott Carter Foundation for Pediatric Cancer Research. Throughout its history, DUI has raised and donated approximately $100,000 to this worthy cause.


Current members[edit]

  • Savanna Hershman (T '17)
  • Susan Lang (T'17)
  • Joe Timko (P'17)
  • Melissa Carrico (T'18)
  • Michael Gattas (T'18)
  • Camille Hayward (T'18)
  • Joe Squillace (T'18)
  • James Daubert (T'19)
  • Will Francis (T'19)
  • Julia Wohl (T'19)
  • Matthew Harris (T'20)
  • Teig Hennessy (T'20)


(By Year Joined)

  • (1996) Cason Carter, Harris Brodsky, John Grant, Matt Kovalick, Nupur Mehta, Porter Mason, Scott Hecker, Sean Loughlin
  • (1997) Flynn Barrison, Andy Cies
  • (1998) Bobby Jones, Laura Bronner, Tom Cass
  • (1999) Bret Runestad, Dana Vachon, Seth Weitberg
  • (2000) Greg Anderson, John Marnell, Paul Downs
  • (2001) Rob Painter, Jeremy Chapman
  • (2002) Caroline Haubold, Ryan Welsh, Andrew Humphries
  • (2003) Stephen Cox, Laura Pyatt
  • (2004) Brandon Curl, Matt Manocherian
  • (2005) Lawrence Chen, Alex Berghorst, Brett Aresco, Andrew Tutt
  • (2006) Scott Peppel, David Distenfeld, Tom Blemaster
  • (2007) Alex Ellinport, Vikram Raju
  • (2008) Kyle Glackin, Wesley Peacock
  • (2009) Hunter Douglas, Julianne Kolb, Jess Hendin, Robert Zaleski
  • (2010) Devon Cottle, Jonathan Wilkins, Morgan Miller, Alpha Tessema
  • (2011) Thomas Kavanagh, Nick Chilson, Keegan Cotton, Lawrence Nemeh
  • (2012) Ryan Murphy

External links[edit]