MU Improv performs for 12 hours to raise money for Active Minds

Because of its unexpected success, the members of MU Improv hope to see this event grow in upcoming years.

The oppressive heat didn’t stop MU Improv, the improvisational comedy group, from performing for 12 hours straight in Speakers Circle on Friday to raise money for Active Minds, an organization that promotes mental health awareness.

The group performed in shifts from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Jake Wallach, the president of MU Improv, came up with the idea of a long comedic performance for a good cause.

“We wanted to do something philanthropic for the end of the year because mostly we just perform shows, so we wanted to do something to give back,” Wallach said.

The group decided to donate their money to Active Minds because mental health is an important issue, especially in comedy, treasurer Josh Ejnes said. He cited Robin Williams as an example.

“A lot of comedians have mental health problems, and we think it should be taken as seriously as any other health problem,” Ejnes said. “We thought this was a good way to help Active Minds out.”

As the day continued, the crowd grew. Along with the growing number of spectators, the amount of money raised for Active Minds also increased.

“We started with empty helmets and jars of nothing, and now they’re starting to fill up with money,” MU Improv member Mark Kim said. “It’s good to see the progress we made.”

The comedians were not the only people who occupied the circle.

“The Evangelical people have not been too fond of our material, but it’s been fun and interesting,” Ejnes said.

Around 1:30 p.m., the group took an unplanned break. A man who came to Speakers Circle that day to speak about the Bible donated money so he could have a turn, since the comedians were there all day.

“At the end of the day, it’s about raising money for Active Minds, as opposed to how much improv we do,” Kim said.

Afterward, the show went on. Some students enjoyed a laugh on the way to class or sat to watch for awhile. Members of MU Improv who weren’t performing asked for money on the perimeters of the circle.

The group did not have a specific goal in mind of how much money they wanted to raise, so they decided to raise as much as they could this year, said Wallach.

This is the first year MU Improv decided to host an event like this. They are already setting higher goals for next year.

“I’d like to see us try to do it an hour more every year,” Ejnes said. “It would be cool to see this grow into an event where people look forward to it every year.”

However, for Active Minds president Jessica York, the money isn’t the most important contribution made by MU Improv.

“It’s about the recognition that mental health is such a prevalent thing in our society and on our campus,” York said. “It means a lot that this group is willing to take the time out of their day to advocate for us. The money is nice because we don’t get any money from the school, but it’s more about how much they care about the cause and how much they’re willing to help.”

The endurance of lasting 12 hours was a challenge for MU Improv’s members. Usually, shows are one hour, with three teams performing within each show. However, for MU Improv member Eleanor Hasenbeck, the cause is worth it.

“Comedy is a great way to tackle mental illness, and it’s a great way to learn how to communicate and express your emotions,” Hasenbeck said. “These two entities tie really well together, and I’m really glad to help out Active Minds.”

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