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DePaul professors go off script at The Scholar’s Improv

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Tonight, we’re going off script.

A clear lack of structure littered the floor as DePaul Philosophy Professor Peter Steeves threw down his notes for the evening and introduced the audience to The Scholar’s Improv, embracing the improvisational atmosphere.

Organized by the DePaul Humanities Center with five DePaul professors showcased along with a troupe of improv comedians, the professors were put to the test and forced to lecture on topics they were entirely unaware of until they stepped on stage.

Although audience members originally expected the professors to be working with topics they knew nothing about, the topics that unfolded were all disappointedly in areas that the professors were well-versed in. However, Steeves and Pete Parsons, lead organizer of the event from the troupe, made sure the pictures accompanying each slide were bare and far from what the professors expected to see.

Matthew Girson, Greg Scott, Lexa Murphy, David Degras-Valabregue and Rick Lee were the lucky DePaul professors chosen to improvise the lectures. Professors had eight minutes to maneuver themselves and the audience through an entirely unplanned PowerPoint, improvising the whole lecture and providing some comic relief for the audience along the way.

Between each DePaul professor’s lecture, the comedians performed different skits on stage. From going off of topics and time periods picked by the audience, to utilizing a list of phrases the audience provided before the event started, the cast was left with plenty to work with, wittily incorporating various comedic components into their skits.

Though the comedians generated the most laughs and applause throughout, many of the professors had students in attendance who appreciated witnessing the discomfort that accompanies an unplanned lecture.

Jordan Weber, a senior English and philosophy major at DePaul, mentioned how he enjoyed seeing one of his own professors, Rick Lee, up on stage, thinking on his feet and trying to make it through the improvised lecture.

“I thought it was a nice event, it was cool to see scholars and I guess something you don’t typically think would be paired with them like improv,” Weber said. “It was nice to see professors have to work on their feet and think in different ways.”

To round out the event, the  improv troupe partnered together with the professors and acted through a freeze frame-type skit. While two or three of the professional comedians started the skits, those not involved were expected to step in when the word “freeze” was said, taking the place of one of the other people in the scene.

When stumped with nothing to say, both the professionals and the professors had the opportunity to pick up phrases from the floor to piece together their scenes.

As expected, what the skits lacked in comprehension was made up for with irony and laughter.

As a loud round of applause echoed steadily throughout the third floor of the Student Center, a wave of relief washed over the professors as they exited the unfamiliar world of improv and entered back into the comforts of academia.

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DePaul professors go off script at The Scholar’s Improv