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A month of laughs with improv comedy group

The Dead Parrots Society is hosting one of its biggest events of the year. Squawktober, a month-long improv series, began on Friday, Oct. 2, and will end on Friday, Oct. 30.

It features two back-to-back performances every Friday and Saturday night with a different format each week at 8 p.m. in Old Main Theater.

The first format was called “Montage” followed by “Family Dinner” the week after, according to its website. 

The Dead Parrots Society performs "family dinner" style improv on Saturday, Oct. 10. They have been performing improv in Old Main Theatre every Friday and Saturday during October for their Squawktober festival. Shows cost $4 and are at 7 p.m. // Photo by Christina Becker
The Dead Parrots Society performs “family dinner” style improv on Saturday, Oct. 10. They have been performing improv in Old Main Theatre every Friday and Saturday during October for their Squawktober festival. Shows cost $4 and are at 7 p.m. // Photo by Christina Becker

Junior Bridget Littlefield attended the performance of “Family Dinner” on Friday, Oct. 9, and said she thought it was a little over-the-top compared to some of the Dead Parrots Society’s other shows, but overall likes the improv group.

“Family Dinner” proposes a challenge for the performers because it isn’t its usual mix of themes, Littlefield said.

The next round of performances will be closer to how it typically performs.

“Next week is ‘Dartmondo,’ where we get student stand-up comics to do little sets and then we do improv based off of their sets,” said Alex LaVallee, a member of The Dead Parrots Society.

To wrap up the festival, the club will perform family-friendly routines at the Fall Family Open House, then depart from its typical humor to a more scary, morose format on Oct. 30, LaVallee said.

For a festival like Squawktober, members of The Dead Parrots Society also work to ensure its visibility.

“It’s a lot of planning,” LaVallee said. “We’ve got someone who does publicity, we’ve got a business director and they’re always trying to think of new and different ways to get the word out.”

Dominic Finseth handles the group’s publicity, helping them to promote events like Squawktober, he said.

“I am in charge of getting the butts in the seats,” Finseth said. “Whether that means coordinating the fliers, the online presence that we have, websites, posters and whatnot, it goes through me.”

Funding for the club comes from the proceeds earned at its shows, which go toward the fliers and posters Finseth produces, he said.

As one of The Dead Parrots Society’s bigger events, it calls for a different approach than the usual performances, Finseth said.

“It’s definitely all about the excitement, the energy and kind of giving people what they’re going to see the rest of the year because we dial back on the shows as the year progresses,” he said.

Preparing for Squawktober also involves the performers to put in extra time.

“We do three hours of rehearsal on Sunday for the shows and then every Tuesday, we do another two hours of rehearsal where we’re teaching the concepts of improv to students at our club, Improv Club,” LaVallee said.

Although Squawktober is strenuous, it gives The Dead Parrots Society a chance to show new students what it does and performs popular versions of improv, LaVallee said.

“It’s a very accessible time. Later in the year we delve into more advanced formats and do more experimental formats,” LaVallee said.

The next performances for Squawktober will be at 8 p.m. on Oct. 16 and 17 and admission is $4.

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