Making waves on stage
By Ian Haupt
Audience members lie back in their seats, giggling as they gaze up at a domed screen. A comedy show at a planetarium?
That’s where Carly Lant and the Dead Parrots Society performed a niche show Feb. 23. Improv scenes and stand-up routines were based on what was shown on the planetarium screen.
Lant, a sophomore at Western, competes on the women’s varsity rowing team and performs improv and stand-up comedy regularly on campus.
“The end-all, be-all dream you could say, is to do something in comedy,” Lant said.
She said the Dead Parrots Society, Western’s improv troupe, was a big draw for her in deciding to come to Western. After attending open rehearsals put on by the troupe, she was called up to the performance team, an elite group of nine, last fall.
Lant began her comedy career by joining her high school’s improv club. Bainbridge High School’s club was student run and consisted of seven members. They rented their own spaces for shows, charging $7 a person.
“And on occasion we made money from it, so it was cool,” Lant said.
A friend from her high school improv troupe influenced her choice. She ran into him over winter break last year. He told her to try stand-up. She said a week later he was killed in a car accident on his way back to school. After that, she said she had to give it a shot.
Lant’s first time doing stand-up was at Western’s Last Comic Standing competition last year. She won. As a prize, she opened for comedian Ron Funches.
Lant joined the rowing team last year as a walk-on. She began rowing in high school, where her father taught her to row at her school’s Learn to Row Day.
Rowing is a family tradition in the Lant household. Her father, Mitch, rowed for Western in the 1970s. Her older brother, Henry, took it up in high school, and Lant followed in their footsteps.
“Carly is a natural athlete,” John Fuchs, head coach of Western’s women’s rowing team, said in an email. “She listens well, and brings a grinny comedic sense to the team.”
The Vikings are the defending NCAA Division II Women’s Rowing national champions and are currently ranked No. 1.
Adele Houston, a new coxswain on the team, said Lant has helped her with her transition into the sport.
“She’s a freaking goof!” Houston said.
Lant was competitive with her older brother. She said she developed her sense of humor by trying to best him.
She said she looks up to the late actor and comedian Chris Farley because of his commitment. Her uncle, Hal Smith, was also a big influence on her.
“He’s just the funniest guy alive,” she said.
She strived to make him laugh growing up. Her uncle performed stand-up throughout college and now writes for The Seattle Times.
Lant said she avoids using political or sexual humor on stage. She said her material is based around nostalgia instead. One of her past bits was on the television show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”
She opened the notes section of her phone and scrolled through a bunch of joke ideas.
“These are all just premises,” she said. “There’s not a lot of bulk involved, but it’s just anything that you could potentially beef up and make a joke out of. If you analyze something enough you can make a joke out of it.”