The Gents of the Whethermen


You've seen the ladies (if not, see "The Ladies of the Whethermen," April 4th Campus Celebrities). Now, feast your eyes on the Gents of the Whethermen!

Name: Peter Williams
Year: 4th Year
Hometown: Leesburg, VA
Major: Civil and Environmental Engineering
 
What made you decide to do improv? My family used to watch “Whose Line is It Anyway?” religiously and my junior year, my high school had just created an improv troupe and one of my friends was going to audition for it and I was going to audition with him just as support and for fun. I ended up making the troupe. I stuck with it ever since.
 
How do you prepare for a performance? Leading up to a show, I try to just not think about performing because I always get in my head and super nervous. We all warm up as a group and try to really get in the right mindset for the show and raise our energy.
 
What was your favorite moment from a show? Our most recent show was my final show as a Whethermen and a couple of Whethermen alums who could not make it down to the show made a video about my time in the group in place of their physical presence. I laughed, I cried, it was so heartfelt and so meaningful to me; I’ll never forget it.
 
What do you do in your free time? Watch TV, play Pokemon, and not go to the gym. Essentially, everything I did when I was 10.
 
Your idol: Monty Python. I know that’s not a person.
 
Most embarrassing moment:I played lacrosse in high school and one practice, I took a shot as hard as I could on goal and the ball hit the post, bounced back at me, hit the ground and bounced right up into my crotch. This was coincidentally the one day I didn’t wear a cup. Most of the team saw this event and laughed at me when I was writhing on the ground. It was the worst.
 
Favorite TV show as a kid: Doug
 
Favorite TV show now:The Wire
 
What are your immediate and/or post-graduation plans?Nerd Alert: I am going to Northwestern University next fall for graduate school for materials science and
engineering.
 
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Hopefully I’ll have an awesome job, an awesome wife, maybe have some awesome kids, and hopefully not dead. Though, if I do die, hopefully it too, will be awesome.

Name: Tyler Frankenberg
Year: 3rd
Hometown: Cincinnati, OH
Major: Political and Social Thought
 
What made you decide to do improv?  I've always been interested in comedy and always knew I wanted to try it at some level.  When I was a senior in high school I was big into acting and performed in my school's winter improv show.  I actually went into it looking for an exercise in character acting, but I came out of it loving improv for its own sake.  I decided to pursue it in college, and when I visited UVA the first time, my student host told me I should audition for the Whethermen because "they're rockstars."  Now I'm being interviewed for HerCampus so I guess we are.
 
How do you prepare for a performance? Not usually by sleeping a whole lot.  I get too excited and nervous.  Other than that, the only thing I guess you could call a ritual is that I usually listen to the same handful of songs on show day, like "Thank You (Fallettin Me Be Mice Elf)" by Sly and the Family Stone and "Lola" by the Kinks.
 
What was your favorite moment from a show?  For some reason, I've always had a hard time remembering the details of specific scenes from shows, and the ones I could recount to you are probably the ones everyone else is mentioning. The memories that are the most special to me are lost somewhere in the whirl.  In a way, though, that's what makes improv special - it happens in the moment and sometimes it stays there, and I've never been able to overcome that so I try to appreciate it.
 
What do you do in your free time?   I like to play Pokemon Blue on my PC.  The other day Peter and I discovered that although we'd been playing completely independently of one another, we'd both reached the same stage in the game (just finished Pokemon Tower and were about to start Silph Headquarters) and had accumulated the exact same lineup of Pokemon (Weepinbell, Kadabra, Raichu, Flareon, Graveler, Wartortle).  If I haven't seemed my usual self lately it's because my old brain exploded, and I'm adjusting to its replacement.
 
Your idol:  Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners.  He plays his heart out for a team that rarely has a chance of making the playoffs, so I'm assuming it's for the love of the game.  Or for millions of American dollars and Japanese endorsements.  I wonder if he likes Pokemon?
 
Most embarrassing moment: One time I was at a high school championship basketball game (as a spectator), and they asked for all of the veterans in the crowd to stand and be recognized.  I immediately rose to give them a standing ovation and then realized halfway through that this defeated the purpose of asking them to stand.  I was completely mortified for some reason (probably because I disrespected America); looking back, only a handful of anonymous people in the crowd of 20,000 saw this; none of them remembered; and even fewer cared, so this was purely an internal conundrum.
 
Favorite TV show as a kid: Saturday Night Live
 
Favorite TV show now: 30 Rock
 
What are your immediate and/or post-graduation plans? Move to Chicago, Boston, or San Francisco and forever leave suburbia behind.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?  Stay-at-home dad, married to a wealthy professional.  No kids.  Playing a lot of Pokemon Blue.

Name: Matthew Sipe
Year: Third Year
Hometown: Herndon, VA
Major: Mathematics, Economics
 
What made you decide to do improv? I first got into improv through my high school; a lot of my good friends were on the team, and they convinced me to try out. I really enjoyed it and knew I would miss it when I got to college. Luckily, I ended up seeing a Whethermen show and hearing about auditions, and here we are now!
 
How do you prepare for a performance? In rehearsals we run workshops on things we feel we need to focus on, like listening or "finding the game," and we practice all the games we're going to have in the show. Aside from rehearsals, it's a lot like being in any other production - get plenty of rest, take care of your voice, and have lots of energy!
 
What was your favorite moment from a show? It's so hard to pick just one...if I had to, though, I would pick the time I was Richie's stuffed animal come to life named Whimsy. Richie immediately knew what I was planning and everything was just so in sync without anyone needing to be told what to do. On top of that, we got the audience emotionally involved in the scene; it's such a pleasant surprise when something you improvise not only makes them laugh, but elicits genuine empathy.
 
What do you do in your free time? I was in a stage adaptation of Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog this semester, so between that, Whethermen, and classes, free time is still kind of a novel experience for me.
 
Your idol: Richard Feynman
 
Most embarrassing moment:Probably any of the many times I had to guess celebrities for Party Game. Before college, I never realized how stopgap my knowledge of pop culture and sports is. Between forgetting Ricky Martin's name and not knowing Dick Vitale, I'm pretty sure our audiences think I'm some kind of hermit or something.
 
Favorite TV show as a kid: Rocko's Modern Life
 
Favorite TV show now:Community
 
What are your immediate and/or post-graduation plans?In a couple minutes I'm going to make some coffee. After graduation I'm planning on going to law school (Harvard if you're reading this shoot me an email).
 
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Well with any luck I'll be on the West Coast practicing intellectual property law for tech upstarts and Silicon Valley companies. If I'm extra lucky, I'll still be in touch with the Whethermen.
 
Name: Connor Doyle
Year: Third Year going on Fourth Year
Hometown: Exotic Charlottesville, Virginia
Major: English Language and Literature, Film Studies Minor

What made you decide to do improv? Well, like most everyone in the Whethermen I think, I grew up essentially worshipping Whose Line Is It Anyway. Then, in high school, I took a drama class, and the night of our big performance in front of the whole school, three other guys and I said “Hey, we like this show. We should try it!” And we did. It wasn’t until we walked onstage that we realized we had no idea what we were doing. Then, out of the blue, we were kind of good at it. I still remember my first joke was to come out and say “Do the wheels on the bus really go round and round?” I really, really hope that was funnier in context.
 
How do you prepare for a performance? I played football in high school, and for some reason I could never get as pumped up as the other kids. Oddly, before Whethermen shows I find myself doing exactly what everyone else did before football games. I jump up and down, I stretch, I drum on stuff, I high five Peter. In the end I think about how I’m just going to be playing pretend with my friends, and it gets me really excited.
 
What was your favorite moment from a show? Once, we were playing a game called Everyday Olympics, where my fellow Whetherman/roommate Peter and I have to announce a really mundane sporting event, and the event was centered around architecture. At some point in the game, Peter and I set it up that we had to look at each other and simultaneously say an architectural fact, and we just turned to each other and at the exact same time just yelled “FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT!” It was so bizarre, and so, so dumb.
 
What do you do in your free time? I watch a lot of TV shows, especially the HBO, hour-long style ones. I’ve watched four seasons of The Wire this semester. I also play a lot of pokemon.
 
Your idol: Conan O’Brien. I’m totally unashamed to admit I cried a little during his last episode of The Tonight Show. Conan’s ability to make fun of himself is something I strive for all the time. Luckily, I’m a lot easier target to make fun of than Conan.
 
Most embarrassing moment:We were handing out flyers before a show once, and a guy in full Naval ROTC uniform walked by me really, really stiffly and robotically, and I jokingly yelled out “Hey, you look like you really need a laugh!” For some reason, this offended him to his core, and in the middle of the Lawn he turned around and gave me a piercing death glare. Don’t judge me. Please. I love America.
 
Favorite TV show as a kid: Scooby-Doo.
 
Favorite TV show now:Breaking Bad. Bryan Cranston is my jamz.
 
What are your immediate and/or post-graduation plans?
Immediately: Watch another episode of Party Down, probably make a sandwich.
Post-Graduation: Prove that English Majors actually can get jobs in the real world. Probably make more sandwiches.
 
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?Hopefully doing something creative for a living, coaching my son’s little league baseball team, and married to somebody awesome. Oh, and improvising.

Name: Richie Debo
Year: 3rd
Hometown: Virginia Beach, VA
Major: Econ
 
What made you decide to do improv? My sister attended UVa and was good friends with a lot of The Whethermen when she went here. She thought improv would be a fun thing to try out, and she arranged for me to meet with a few of older guys before I tried out. They seemed ok.
 
How do you prepare for a performance? Water. I drink a lot of water. I never want to be dehydrated.
 
What was your favorite moment from a show? My first year, we played a guessing game where Brennan Lowery could not think of the word "cougar". He mentioned every other type of cat imaginable before he guessed cougar. He even guessed oscillot. When he finally guessed cougar, the crowd erupted and very nearly gave him a standing ovation in the middle of the scene.
 
What do you do in your free time? Bars?!? Also, studying.
 
Your idol: I look up to my mom a lot, but that is a pretty lame answer. So, Jon Stewart? I have always respected how he is able to mix humor into intelligent discussions.
 
Most embarrassing moment:In 3rd grade, we had a priest come to my school to to talk to my whole class. He asked for 2 volunteers, and I was selected along with the "weird" girl in my class. He then asked me, in front of everyone, if I loved her. I really did not like this girl, but every time I said "No" he would make me feel guilty. It was supposed to be a lesson on "What love means" but it became a lesson on "why you should never volunteer". My class participation still suffers.
 
Favorite TV show as a kid: The Adventures of Jonny Quest
 
Favorite TV show now:Arrested Development
 
What are your immediate and/or post-graduation plans?Real Estate Development or Law School or some other form of job. I like to view it as keeping my options open.
 
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? I really don't know where I will be in a few hours. I have never been particularly good with scheduling.

Name: Josh (Jorsh) Bressler
Year: Second Year
Hometown: St. Louis, MO 
Major: Commerce

What made you decide to do improv? Well I took an improv class in high school with a small group of people that turned out to be super fun and hilarity-filled. That, coupled with the fact that for some inexplicable reason people laugh at my jokes, led me to pursue an improv troupe at UVA. And I am really glad I did!

How do you prepare for a performance?The most important thing to me is just really getting my energy up, get the blood pumping. We always warm up for a while before a show to get the adrenaline going. The more energy you have, the more ready you are to commit to a scene, to make a connection in a long-form, and to just put yourself out there. I also try to drink something like a Capri Sun (my Capre-show Sun) for a sugar rush.

What was your favorite moment from a show? At the “Graduation Spectacular” show, the graduating 4th years play a game called Chinese Water Torture where one of them must always have their head in a bucket of water while the other participants are in a scene, and when one can’t hold their breath in the water any longer they raise their hand and switch places. During the game, the audience gets really into it and shows genuine concern and worry about their safety. They always shout and gasp when a hand is raised. It is fantastically entertaining… they’ll be fine! 

What do you do in your free time? I would be lying if I said I did much else besides nap in what little free time I have. I do, however, like hanging out with friends, playing percussion and catching up on TV shows.

Your idol: Bob Newhart, Jack Handey.

Most embarrassing moment: I might not characterize this as embarrassing, but: One day in middle school, I was riding the bus back home. We turned into my neighborhood and passed a group of Jewish people (I know this because they were wearing Yamachas), and I shouted out the window, “Go Jews!” because I am Jewish myself and apparently felt like expressing that fact enthusiastically. Almost instantly, one of the men runs at the bus and starts banging on the side furiously and the driver lets him on for some reason. He stomps onto the bus and demands at the top of his lungs, “Who yelled, ‘No Jews!’?”

Favorite TV show as a kid: Hey Arnold!

Favorite TV show now: Community or How I Met Your Mother (Lost: RIP)

What are your immediate and/or post-graduation plans? Well, I am planning on going to bed early tonight. Post-graduation? Who knows!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? I just hope I have an awesome job, great friends, and a general understanding of life’s meaning.
 
Name: Stephen Flowers
Year: 2nd
Hometown: Dunkirk, MD
Major: Physics
 
What made you decide to do improv? I saw a Whethermen show when I first came to UVA, and they were of course awesome and hilarious, and I thought how cool and fun it would be to be a part of that.  Entertaining people is always something I've liked doing, and the Whethermen seemed like an awesome way to do it.
 
How do you prepare for a performance? We all meet several hours beforehand to go over the show and warm up so that by the time the show starts we're all warmed up and on the same wavelength.
 
What was your favorite moment from a show? One of my most favorite parts was actually during a Dorm Sing we did soon after I first joined.  Connor was a king, and we were all supposed to sing him Happy Birthday, so we just sang the regular Happy Birthday song.  But then Connor said "no, I mean the other song," purposefully forcing us to make one up on the spot.  AVP (Academical Village People) had just performed, so a cappella was on everyone's mind, so we did an on-the-spot a cappella birthday song, and it actually ended up sounding like an actual song, with everyone doing a different part, and Tyler doing a great solo.
 
What do you do in your free time? Hang out with my roommates, play videogames, nap, put off work.
 
Your idol: Steve Carell, mostly because he shares my name
 
Most embarrassing moment:Soon after I got back this semester, I was in our kitchen in my boxers with dance music playing when I heard one of my roommates come in the front door.  I started hip-thrusting to the music to greet him, and it turned out that he had brought a couple girl friends who I had never met before, who all got a great first impression of me.
 
Favorite TV show as a kid: Malcolm in the Middle
 
Favorite TV show now:Arrested Development
 
What are your immediate and/or post-graduation plans?I'm in ROTC, so I'll be an officer in the Army for at least 4 years as soon as I graduate, defending freedom.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? My best guess is one of 3 things: Still defending freedom in the Army, pursuing some sort of corporate career, or being the coolest teacher ever at a university somewhere.
 
Name: Christian Thorsen
Year: First
Hometown: Chesapeake, VA
Major: Undeclared

What made you decide to do improv?
Interestingly, I wasn't planning on trying out for the Whethermen. My friend wanted to audition and did not want to go alone, so I originally only went as moral support. But after meeting the Whethermen and laughing my butt off during auditions and callbacks, I really wanted to get in. Getting into the Whethermen was one of the best things that has happened to me in college, and I can't wait for all of the memories to come in the next three years.
 
How do you prepare for a performance?
Well, in practices we are always running through short forms and long forms, and emphasizing certain techniques of improv in different practices.  There is no surefire way to prepare, except for knowing the people you are performing with, knowing the rules of improv, and bringing high energy and a positive attitude.
 
What was your favorite moment from a show?
Getting my brand name in my first show, I felt so legit getting my "Netflix" shirt. I cherish that shirt so much. It gets its own little drawer in my room now.
 
What do you do in your free time?
Well, aside from the Whethermen, I am also in the acapella group the New Dominions, and in First Year Players, which is a theater organization where upperclassmen put on shows with first years as their actors.  If I'm not in rehearsal for any of those groups, then I'm probably scrambling to get some homework done, or sleeping. I also am a huge film buff, so I watch movies on a regular basis too.
 
Your idol: As I said, I'm an enormous movie fan, so my idol would have to be the film director Wes Anderson. I admire his movies so much, and I would want nothing more than to be the film director that he is.
 
Most embarrassing moment:Well recently, I was walking home with some friends, and one of them had a hurt foot. So, in an attempt to be chivalrous, I tried to carry her, and just to seem awesome, I tried to run with her in my arms.  Needless to say, I fell and dropped her. I am still joked on about that.
 
Favorite TV show as a kid:Digimon, no question. Pokemon was cute and all, but Digimon was where it was at.
 
Favorite TV show now:Probably Community. I think that show has just fantastic writing and actors. 
 
What are your immediate and/or post-graduation plans?
I'm a first year right now. I barely know what classes I will be taking next year. I suppose I would like to move to New York or Los Angeles and look for a job or internship.
 
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I suppose I would like to have a job in film. I wouldn't even care what that job was, just anything in film works for me. If all goes well, I will be happy and successful, but I guess that's what everybody wants.