Guide to the Duke University Improv Records, 1997 - 2001


Duke University Improv is an improvisational comedy group composed of Duke students. The group formed in 1997. Records include printed e-mail correspondence, photographs, scripts, clippings, publicity fliers, and rosters. Major subjects include Duke University student activities, entertainment at Duke University, improvisational comedy, and acting. Materials range in date from 1997 to 2001. English.

Collection Details

Record Group
Duke University Improv records
1997 - 2001
Duke University Improv
1 Linear Feet, 1,000 Items
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Collection Overview

Contains printed email correspondence, photographs, clippings, publicity fliers, scripts, and a rosters of the Duke University Improv comedy group from 1997-2000.

More Biographical / Historical Info

Using These Materials

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 2 full business days in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access to the Collection

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

In accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 as amended, Duke University permits students to inspect their education records and limits the disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records.

In off-site storage; 48 hours advance notice is required for use.

warning Use & Permissions

Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

More copyright and citation information

How to Cite

[Identification of item], Duke University Improv Records, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

1. Correspondence, June 1999-May 2000.

Contains printed e-mail correspondence between Improv members. The emails are organizational, creative, and generally demonstrate the humor of the group. Ordered by date.

Correspondence (e-mail), June 1999-September 1999
Box 1
Folder 1
Correspondence (e-mail), October 1999-May 2000
Box 1
Folder 2

2. Photographs, 1998-2000

Contains photographs of performances and some composites of the group. Ordered by date.

Big Show I, April 17, 1998
Box 1
Folder 3
Scott Carter Foundation, August 1998
Box 1
Folder 4
Big Show II, April 16, 1999
Box 1
Folder 5
General, Spring 1999
Box 1
Folder 6
Scott Carter Foundation, August 1999
Box 1
Folder 7
Lady Blue Shows, 1998 and 1999
Box 1
Folder 8
Edens Quad, 1999
Box 1
Folder 9
Big Show III, April 14, 2000
Box 1
Folder 10

3. Performance materials, 1999-2000

Contains notes and scripts used in performances. Ordered by date.

Christmas Show, December 1999
Box 1
Folder 11
Big Show III, April 14, 2000
Box 1
Folder 12
Mystery Show, undated
Box 1
Folder 13

4. Press and clippings, 1998-2001.

Contains fliers, newspaper clippings, press releases, and reviews of shows. One article from 2001 (folder 18) describes the post-graduation activities of founding Improv members. Ordered by date.

University of Virginia, January 24, 1998
Box 1
Folder 14
Big Show I, April 17, 1998
Box 1
Folder 15
Big Show II, April 16, 1999
Box 1
Folder 16
Big Show III, April 14, 2000
Box 1
Folder 17
Miscellaneous press
Box 1
Folder 18

5. History and membership, 1997-2000.

Contains the first rehearsal roster, letters to The Chronicle regarding the "Monday, Monday" column by the Tossed Salad Men, an application to join Improv, and letters to the Editor regarding racist language in an Improv performance. Ordered by date.

Rehearsal roster, February 1997
Box 1
Folder 19
Letters to The Chronicle: Tossed Salad Men, April 1998
Box 1
Folder 20
Auditions application, ca. 1998
Box 1
Folder 21
Letters to The Chronicle: Middle East and Terrorism, April 2000
Box 1
Folder 22
Creation Story of DUI, by Matt Kovalick, May 2000
Box 1
Folder 23

Historical Note

Duke University Improv, an improvisational comedy group made of Duke University undergraduates, was formed in February 1997, after a dormitory talent show on East Campus. In late 1996, East Campus held an "East Campus Extravaganza" at Reynolds Theater in the Bryan Center. Each dormitory on East Campus was to showcase its talent for the show; judges would award a pool table to the winners. Members of Gilbert-Addoms dormitory created a "mock-appella" group to enter the contest and sing parodies of the Speak of the Devil and Pitchfork songs. During preparation for this event, Sean Loughlin and Matt Kolavick met Cason Carter; the three became part of a 10-person group. The group claims to have not prepared much for the show, but their performance captivated the audience and they won the pool table for Gilbert-Addoms dormitory. One song, "Breakfast at The Marketplace", was a hit that would resurface in later performances.

After the East Campus Extravaganza, several residents in Gilbert-Addoms and Randolph (plus one person from Alspaugh) talked during the year about creating an improvisational comedy group. They were impressed by the television show Whose Line is it Anyway and Duke University orientation week's Comedy Spots. In February 1997, John Grant and Sean Loughlin called a meeting in Gilbert-Addoms hall. The founding eight members of Improv were: Harris Brodsky, Cason Carter, John Grant, Scott Hecker, Sean Loughlin, Matt Kovalick, Porter Mason, and Nupur Mehta.

The new group called themselves DUI: Duke University Improv and claim to have had some rough beginnings. But by spring 1997, DUI performed ten times on campus and conceived the idea for the Big Show, a successful variety and benefit show. Porter Mason, Scott Hecker, and Cason Carter were discussing their families and discovered that cancer had affected them all. DUI was doing well financially, and with no costs, they could produce a benefit show that they would call the "Big Show". All proceeds would be donated to the Scott Carter Foundation for Cancer Research in memory of Cason's brother, Scott, who died from bone cancer. Over the next three years, Improv produced three Big Show events and raised approximately $25,000 for cancer research. Improv made two trips to Tulsa, Oklahoma to perform in benefit shows and present checks to the Scott Carter Foundation for Cancer Research.

Additional performances were a Big Show III sell-out in Page Auditorium featuring local celebrities, Christmas Shows, Mystery Shows, and Duke Parent's Weekend shows. Improv also made their mark on the Duke University campus in The Chronicle as the subjects of many letters to the editor and an in-person comedy showdown with "Monday, Monday" columnists, The Tossed Salad Men. In the community, Improv performed for the Durham Academy, television's Cable 13 channel, and students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Virginia, and Georgetown University.

As of 2003, DUI is currently active on campus and continues to perform the Big Show and well as a new Little Big Show.

Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.


The Duke University Improv Records was received by the University Archives as a transfer in 2000.

Processing Information

Processed by Emily Glenn

Completed January 2003

Encoded by Jill Katte, September 2003