K.A.R.L. wins laughs, nomination for national honors

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K.A.R.L. Improv performs at the College Improv Tournament in Kansas City.Cole Bishop | Student Life

K.A.R.L. Improv performs at the College Improv Tournament in Kansas City.

A year of weekly performances in a small dining room at Bear’s Den and annual shows featuring inebriated performers and full audiences donning mustaches has paid off for K.A.R.L. Improv.

The group, named with an acronym that it touts as the Performing Arts Department’s best kept secret, has been nominated for the 2012 INNY Award in the category of Best in College Improv.

The INNY Awards is a contest sponsored by Improvisation News each year to recognize excellence in the improvisational comedy world.

K.A.R.L. is competing against 11 other groups from colleges across the nation for the award, which will be given to whichever group receives the highest number of online votes.

Member Randy Brachman, a senior, said the nomination is particularly meaningful because K.A.R.L. is the only short-form improvisation group up for the award.

“Within the improv community, there’s sort of this negative view on short-form, [because it] is often very gimmicky,” he said. “We bring long-term training and long-term fundamentals to short-form; it’s more like a hybrid of the two, which is really cool.”

Brachman added that low-key weekly performances keep the group from tensing up at its major shows.

Ben Cutler, Caryn Rubanovich, Alex Antrum and Connor McEvoy. Cole Bishop | Student Life

Ben Cutler, Caryn Rubanovich, Alex Antrum and Connor McEvoy.

“We used to have just three to four shows per semester, and when you only get to perform four times a semester, the pressure’s high. You just have to do a good job. And it’s a lot harder to operate in that space; it’s hard to do good improv when there’s that much pressure,” he said.

Sophomore Connor McEvoy, the group’s treasurer, said the nomination is an honor because it was based on recommendations and votes made by people who are not necessarily part of the University community. Nominations can be made by any registered users of the Improvisation News website.

“We’ve networked in Chicago, and we’re really heavily involved in the growing St. Louis [improv]scene,” McEvoy said. “We have a bunch of people more than willing to vouch for us.”

McEvoy said he credits the nomination to the extensive networking the group has done this year with improvisation communities outside of the University.

“Where we really excel is showing initiative outside of Wash. U. We try to be the liaison between Wash. U. improv and St. Louis improv,” McEvoy said.

Sophomore member Kate Drummond noted that the group has boosted its fan base by traveling to numerous competitions throughout the year.

“We went to competitions in Kansas City and also Gainesville, Fla.” Drummond said. “We think those two things really helped get our name out there and got the higher-ups in the improv world looking at us.”

McEvoy and Drummond agreed that the nomination is a testament to K.A.R.L.’s strength as a group.

“When K.A.R.L. was founded, no one imagined that we would last this long, and we pride ourselves on working really hard,” McEvoy said. “For a lot of us it’s really important because we’ve worked so hard…and it’s nice to be recognized.

“We compete because it’s a chance for us to do more improv and meet more people in the community,” Drummond said. “But K.A.R.L. is a primarily a family and secondarily an improv group.”

The Improv Shop, an improv theater and school in St. Louis, was nominated for Best Training Program, while St. Louis’ Bill Chott, the founder of The Improv Trick, is up for Best Improv Coach. Winners will be notified and receive prize packages later this year.

With additional reporting by Michael Tabb

  • Greg

    Hey, isn’t that the guy on the cover of the sex week issue?

  • $$ Pence

    YAY KARL! Congrats guys!