Last summer, Communication second-year Ethan Gomberg wore his purple Northwestern hoodie to a live taping of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
He believes that the school gear led Colbert to single him out from the crowd during a pre-show Q&A. When Gomberg asked Colbert how his alma mater prepared him for a career in late- night television, Colbert shared that his participation in Northwestern’s improv group No Fun Mud Piranhas stood out the most. After the taping, Gomberg was excited to join the club and began to do some research — only to realize that the group had fizzled out during the pandemic.
With nearly 500 student organizations on campus, finding the group that best suits one’s interests can be overwhelming. And when COVID-19 struck, not every organization was able to stay afloat. Since then, students have resurrected some of these once-beloved clubs. Others are remembered fondly but remain dormant.
No Fun Mud Piranhas
No Fun Mud Piranhas may be the only club on campus with an official secretary of bathroom breaks. The title is one of many new positions coined in the wake of the group’s return.
Last fall, Gomberg and McCormick second-year Tej Bahri bonded over their shared acting backgrounds and interest in college improv. However, after attending events hosted by Northwestern improv groups, they found the audition process competitive and time commitments restrictive.
Gomberg and Bahri revived No Fun Mud Piranhas because they felt that Northwestern lacked an inclusive, casual improv group with no audition requirement.
No Fun Mud Piranhas is accessible to any student who wants to try their hand at improv. The group meets weekly in Annenberg Hall, where students participate in a variety of different acting games and exercises.
“What we’re really trying to foster is this environment where kids can take risks and be willing to fail,” Gomberg says.
Gomberg and Bahri have noticed a growing sense of community and belonging among No Fun Mud Piranhas’ members. In the future, they hope to collaborate and host events with other improv groups to spread awareness of the organization across campus.
“Improv is definitely something that everybody can share and enjoy,” Bahri says.
Every Dillo Day, the Lakefill famously morphs into a music festival venue. However, fewer students may be aware of a once-beloved Dillo eve tradition that transformed Shanley Pavilion into the site of a WWE-style spectacle known as Wrestlepocalypse.
For over a decade, the mock wrestling show attracted students campus-wide and regularly sold out.
Willa Barnett is one of the last Wrestlepocalypse members on campus. She says the unique event, produced by student theatre board Vertigo Productions, was “a mixture of comedy and physical comedy and this really cool, weird variety show.”
Performers started rehearsing in late winter with a stunt choreographer to make matches as safe and exciting as possible. Outrageous wrestler personas were a key element of the show — popular match-ups included the farmer versus chicken, Cleopatra versus Marie Antoinette and Toad versus Toadette.
Beyond the championship belts and fierce fight choreography, Barnett says part of the appeal of Wrestlepocalypse was that it drew students from outside the comedy scene.
“[It feels] pretty insulated sometimes in the comedy community, and I feel like it was a good opportunity for people to meet other people,” Barnett says.
Wrestlepocalypse was last staged in 2019. There’s no word as to whether it will return, but somewhere, the ring is waiting.