Mee-Ow is an eight-member comedy troupe which boasts notable alumni like Julia Louis-Dreyfuss. They’re preparing to entertain you on Feb. 26 – 28 in the Louis Room of Norris with a recipe calling for one-third sketch comedy, one-third improv, and one-third rock n’ roll.
Concocting each show requires practice. Communication junior Jen D’Angelo and Communication senior Connor White rush through the doors of University Hall 112 half an hour late. “I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry!” D’Angelo says. She’s been waiting for her car to defrost, a valid excuse considering the night’s low of minus 20 degrees.
Rehearsals for Mee-Ow tend to start late and end in a different room than planned. “We get asked to move, or we’re too loud,” says co-director Sarah Grace Welbourn, a Communications senior.
Jack Novak, also co-directing, pouts. “People don’t like us. Even though we’ve done nothing wrong.”
While waiting for the stragglers to arrive, Mee-Ow exchanges some theater talk. Communication senior Joel Sinensky emails a callback related question. Could he bring music to impersonate a ventriloquist’s dummy? Communication junior Tim McGovern sings a Broadway snippet: “Being aliiive…” They converse about the upcoming Waa-Mu show, which many Mee-Ow members are collaborating on. (Ironically, Mee-Ow was named in the 1970s to poke fun at Waa-Mu). Communication junior James Daniel jinxes Communication senior Jessica McKenna. Now she owes him a coke.
Mee-Ow is stacked with folks who are pretty good at being hilarious, which means they often compete for the same parts in on-campus shows. McKenna and Sinensky are up for the same role in “Ghetto,” while McGovern, Novak and Sinensky are competing for the same role in “The Illusion.” Novak recalls his sadness from Spring 2008 when a show featuring three funny females did not call back any of the Mee-Ow ladies.
“Thanks Jack,” says Welbourn. “That was very supportive.”
“Very supportive,” echoes McKenna.
Cold winter nights and long rehearsals can be draining, so Mee-Ow love and support are necessary. (Especially for White, who had support in the form of an Aircast. He sprained his ankle “playing basketball,” he says, then thinks: “being funny.”) In fact, there’s a lot of love. Most of the cast members have made out with one another, either on stage or off. “On my birthday, everybody kissed me,” says Welbourn.
Daniel seems wary of the make-out discussion. “If this is going to be about an incestuous theater group…”
Before finally getting down to business, they settle cross-legged in a circle on the floor atop the peeling carpet tiles (which McGovern describes as “helter-skelter”) and scoot a lit candle from person to person while recounting events of the day. Or were they? Distinguishing their straight-up sarcasm from embellished truth is near impossible.
“Humor is obviously going to pervade their serious lives, because seriousness often pervades comedy,” said Mee-Ow’s producer, Katie Halpern. “If you’re not gonna bring comedy into your life, it’s gonna be a pretty sad one, but if you’re not gonna bring life into your comedy than it ceases to be art.”
Updated 3/12, 2:54 p.m. Thanks to Jack Novak for alerting us to the misspelling of his name. Also, this rehearsal took place in room 112, not room 101 as originally specified.