UMD improvisation group holds 24-hour-long show for charity

By Alicia Cherem

Members of Erasable Inc., a student improv theatre group on campus, gave up a night’s worth of sleep to perform their annual 24-hour comedy show, May 5 to 6 at McKeldin Mall.

This traditional event was first held in 1994, as a way to fundraise money through audience donations, according to Erasable Inc. member Julia Zhen, a sophomore supply chain management and information systems management double major. This year, the group chose to donate to Blue Water Baltimore, a charity that helps restore the quality and safety of bodies of water in Baltimore.

The group’s motto for the event was “no breaks, no subs, no sleep,” said Erasable Inc. member and sophomore theatre major Paige Weiss. If somebody falls asleep, they have to perform a monologue for two minutes straight, she said. The only time Weiss took off during the show was for a 15-minute bathroom break at 2 a.m.

The group prepared for the show three weeks in advance, by practicing the necessary skills for improvisation and going over activities they were considering for the show. 

Weiss and Zhen described the audience as the most important component of the show, as most activities were performed through the involvement of the crowd. Weiss specifically emphasized the importance of relating to her audience for shows like these.

“I need to be relatable, because I need to have a human quality that will pull people in,” Weiss said. “The cool thing about the activities is that I can take things and instances I find funny in my everyday life and apply them to the show, because it’s so long.”

Danya Allswang, a sophomore criminology and criminal justice major, attended the show on Friday afternoon and on Saturday around 2 a.m.

“It’s a genius way to fundraise and [the show] was absolutely incredible,” Allswang said. “After seeing many of their weekly Friday shows, I liked this better, because they have the ability to just get loose and be adventurous.”

In accordance to their motto, the group vowed to perform in any weather. Group members pushed through, and several audience members stuck around, when it started raining early Saturday morning.

The show came to a close Saturday afternoon around 1 p.m. According to Zhen, this was an emotional time for senior members, as it was their last show.

“Immediately after the show ended, I burst into tears, mostly due to exhaustion,” Zhen said. “But the seniors kiss the McKeldin steps at the end, and it’s such a poignant and memorable moment.”

Weiss went to sleep after the show ended. She said that although she had been dreading the 24-show in the days leading up to it, she was “extremely grateful” to have had the opportunity to be part of such a unique opportunity.

Zhen, who shared a similar love-hate feeling, said the event symbolized a sort of “impending doom,” marking the end of the semester, the beginning of finals and the last show for seniors.

“It’s a culmination of all of the things that happened throughout the year, but as much as you hate it, you love it,” Zhen said. 

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