The Ladies of the Whethermen

...or could I just say The Whetherwomen? In any case, we've all been to a Whethermen show (I hope, as a Wahoo, you've feasted your eyes and ears on the antics of UVa's oldest improv comedy troupe. If not, GET ON THIS: "Graduation Spectacular," April 15th 8pm, Chem Auditorium), and we all know these are three FUNNY ladies. Her Campus decided to sit down with each of them to get a better look at what makes Kirsten, Mary Claire, and Carolyn so hilarious. 
 
Name: Kirsten Steuber
Year: Third Year
Hometown: Midlothian, VA
Major: English and Classics (Latin)
 
What made you decide to do improv? 
Growing up, I always was the class clown. I loved making my family and friends laugh. My dad and I would watch the show “Whose Line is It Anyway?” together, and he would say, “you could do that.” So my dad is basically responsible.
 
What is it like to be a girl on an improv team made up of mostly guys?
I’ve always been friends with a lot of guys, so it’s not really a big deal. As a girl I think you have to fight a little harder to be heard at times, but as long as you hold your ground, they’ll listen to you and take you seriously. Boys will be boys.
 
Why do you think it's important for women to be involved in comedy?
It’s important because girls can be just as funny as guys and the stereotype that they can’t needs to be destroyed, one woman at a time. 
 
How do you prepare for a performance?
The whole group warms up together and gets pumped up. Before a show I have so much energy I could run around the Chemistry building twenty times.
 
What was your favorite moment from a show?
Our final show last year, our fourth years' last show, was so bittersweet, hilarious, and well-attended that the whole show qualifies as a favorite show moment.
 
What do you do in your free time?
Do homework, write, hang out with friends, read, Latin, and watch reviews on the internet
 
Your idol: Gene Wilder
 
Most embarrassing moment: One time I was at a party, and since I’m super awkward in social situations where I don’t know a lot of people, this guy came up to me and asked if I wanted to dance. I was so caught off guard by it, I began doing the step-touch and yelled, “We are dancing” over the obnoxiously loud frat music. He tried to grind on me for two seconds, realized I was serious, and literally backed away.
 
Favorite TV show as a kid: Angry Beavers. Really any Nicktoons. and Aladdin the Series.
 
Favorite TV show now: The Office and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
 
What are your immediate and/or post-graduation plans? 
After graduation, I want to go to grad school in Chicago, the improv capital of the world, for creative writing/film and continue pursuing a career in comedy.
 
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Elaborately famous. Writing novels and performing comedy. Being gluttonously happy.
 
Name: Mary Claire Manley (Mary Claire is my first name, no no my name is not Mary tehe)
Year: Fourth Year
Hometown: Wilton, Connecticut
Major: Art History
 
What made you decide to do improv
I took an acting class as an elective in high school, and we did a week long section on improv. I really enjoyed it and was encouraged by my teacher to pursue it more. However, living in Wilton, Connecticut, there weren't many opportunities to learn more about it. I remember seeing a Whethermen flyer in Alderman as a second year advertising their auditions and figured I'd give it a shot!
 
What is it like to be on an improv team made up mostly of guys
It depends how you think of it. Sometimes it can be a bit harder because there is that stigma out there that guys are funnier than girls, and in a lot of films such as Knocked Up, Superbad, The Hangover, Wedding Crashers, the funnier lines and parts are directed towards men where the women play the crazy, nagging, or bitchy characters. Although I do find an immense pile of humor in those characters as well, such as Leslie Mann in Knocked Up, I don't think it's a good thing to be in a scene with one of the guys in the group and think “hmph, whose getting more laughs from the audience?” Each improvisor is different, and if you make it competitive like that in your head, you're destroying the best part of the group, that we all bring an eclectic sense of humor to comprise the Whethermen. 
 
Why do you think its important for women to be involved in comedy? 
To be able to express oneself. To make it fresh. In the most basic sense, a girl's voice sounds so different from a man's, you contribute a different mentality to an improv scene. My brother referenced a Vanity Fair article to me a while back about why men are more involved in comedy, why they are usually considered funnier. It comes down to the idea of courting, that the guy wants to be the storyteller and the entertainer. So often you hear a girl say to her friends, "he's not THAT cute but he is SO funny." Funny is seen as a positive attribute that can make up for one's looks. How often do you hear a guy say to his friends, "she's not that hot but she is HILARIOUS." There is a trend there where guys use their sense of humor to woo. In the past I have found it difficult to date people because I'm the one who wants to be the storyteller and the entertainer, where a guy may be more used to that role. I think it's important for our culture to start seeing more women who are the goofy entertainers. 
 
How do you prepare for a performance? 
We usually practice working together the night before, so we have the same group mindset. However, we really don't use anything from practice in the shows; it is improvisation in its truest sense. I think some people doubt our sincerity that we don't pull things from practice, and they ask why we need to practice if it's improv. Carolyn put it well when she said it's like any sport, you can't show up for a baseball game not knowing how to swing a bat. I don't do anything on my own to prepare, mostly jump up and down and hope I don't get nervous right before. 
 
What was your favorite moment from a show? 
I was in a game of understudies with Tyler Frankenberg and we had gotten the name of a "play that has never been written" and it had something to do with Arnold Schwarzenegger. I figured I would be the female in the scene, but Tyler painted it that I was Arnold. The audience and I had the same "a-ha!" moment when he put on a high pitched voice and called me Arnold. I tried not to crack up and took a huge breath and the audience died laughing right before I started speaking. The epiphany and anticipatory moment that the audience and I shared will always stick out in my mind. 
 
What do you do in your free time?
The rare moments I'm not busy with schoolwork I love hanging out with my friends, watching snippets of Bravo shows, and reading. Right now, I'm reading Wuthering Heights and The Mailroom. 
 
Your idol: Leslie Mann/Paul Rudd
 
Most Embarrassing Moment: I was 14 and at Six Flags with my cousins who are also some of my best friends. We always crack each other up, and I laughed so hard I peed my pants. I immediately told them, and it was a crucial walk to the locker room, but once we changed into our bathing suits and hit up the water slides it was all good. 
 
Favorite TV Show as a kid: Full House -- Uncle Jesse was smokin'.
 
Favorite TV Show now: Every single Bravo show. Every single one. Except for Million Dollar Listing and Top Chef. Give me any of the Real Housewives, Bethenny Ever After, Flipping Out, Rachel Zoe, and I'm the happiest person. Bravo's editing is high-larious.
 
What are your immediate/post-graduation plans? 
I'm planning on moving to Los Angeles and possibly interning for a talent management and production company. I've done a lot of internships in the art world but am really intrigued by the idea of becoming a talent agent. 
 
Where do you see yourself in ten years? 
Damn. That's far away, but I'd be 32? I will say the cliché thing that I hope to be married or newly married, working as a talent agent in NYC (I'm an east coast girl, gotta move back sometime) and thinking about having kids in the near future. 
 
Name: Carolyn Murdock
Year: Third Year
Hometown: Nashville, TN
Major: Commerce
 
What made you decide to do improv?
Why wouldn’t you want to laugh as an extra-curricular activity? 
 
What is it like to be a girl on an improv team made up of mostly guys?
Interesting.Fun. Unique. If you’re a girl in the Whethermen, you automatically have a huge family of brothers. They tease us girls all of the time, but we definitely know how to hold our own. It also makes a very special bond between the girls; it’s an experience that very few people have experienced. 
 
Why do you think it's important for women to be involved in comedy?
There’s this stigma that girls cannot be funny. I don’t want to get too philosophical or psychological, but I think it has to do with social norms. There are many pressures facing college girls to be beautiful, poised, and, well, perfect. Improv requires you to throw down every wall around you; it’s about being honest, and that requires vulnerability. Boys have different social expectations, making it easier for them to open up to audiences. 
 
How do you prepare for a performance?
For improv, over-thinking is detrimental. Being nervous to a degree is good so I do not fall asleep onstage, but being too anxious will make me get too much “into my head” and perform poorly. So for performances, the main thing I need to do is relax. Before every show we all meet for hours beforehand to prepare but also to just laugh and get our nerves out. 
 
What was your favorite moment from a show?
That’s like asking who your favorite child is. I always love the moments when audiences get so invested in the scenes that they respond in other ways than laughter. For example, I’ll never forget the famous “Whimsy” scene. Richie Debo had a stuffed animal named Whimsy (Matthew Sipe) that only came alive when Richie and Whimsy were alone. I came on as Richie’s mother, chastising him for still playing such childish games. Whenever I turned around, Whimsy would come alive. The audience got so into it they were yelling “TURN AROUND!” and they started “awwwing” at the loving moments between Whimsy and Richie. It was so great to get the audience so involved. 
 
What do you do in your free time?
I have none. 
 
Your idol: Is Tina Fey too cliché for a UVA student comedian to say?
 
Most embarrassing moment: I’m pretty sure I’ve accidentally mooned audiences from being picked up and thrown around on stage. Girls' clothes are not conducive to athletic performances, which is what improv is a lot of the time. 
 
Favorite TV show as a kid: The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo
 
Favorite TV show now: I’m shameless: Teen Mom
 
What are your immediate and/or post-graduation plans?
Wow! You have humor too! Maybe you should audition for The Whethermen.
 
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 
Hopefully wherever I’ll be, you’ll know.