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The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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The Mee-Ow Show Fest celebrates comedy group’s 50th year with laugh-out-loud reunion

Jillian Moore/The Daily Northwestern
Kristen Schall (Bob’s Burgers) shows off her Mee-Ow hoodie from her days in the Northwestern student comedy group on the Actors & Characters panel of the Mee-Ow Show Fest. Back row (L to R): Anjali Bhimani (Ms. Marvel), Dermot Mulroney (Hanna), Peter Grosz (VEEP), J.P. Manoux (Phil of the Future) Front row: Jean Villepique (Upright Citizens Brigade), Romy Rosemont (Glee), Jessica Lowe (Wrecked), Kristen Schall (Bob’s Burgers), Ana Gasteyer (Saturday Night Live)

Evanston Mayor Daniel Biss decreed April 6, 2024 as Evanston’s official “Mee-Ow Show Day” on Saturday, honoring the longest running college improv and sketch comedy show in America.

“Join the observance of the day with appropriate mirth to honor people, the rights and duties of heartfelt spontaneous comedy in the practice of good citizenship,” Biss said.

Biss’s speech kicked off the Mee-Ow Show Fest, a day of panels, mingling, reuniting and, of course, laughs to commemorate 50 years of the comedy group.

Mee-Ow alumni flew in from all over the world to make their return to Norris University Center’s McCormick Auditorium, the location of at least one Mee-Ow show every winter since the first one in 1974.

“It’s remarkable, overwhelming,” actor and former Mee-Ow cast member Dermot Mulroney (Communication ’85) said. “I’ve had all these exceptional experiences as an on-screen actor all these years, but to trace it back to where I began having exceptional performance experiences is to this show.”

Joseph B. Radding (Weinberg ’75), known in the Mee-Ow community as “Professor Mee-Ow” gave a presentation on the history of Mee-Ow. Northwestern University Press will publish Radding and Paul Warshauer’s book on the topic, “The Mee-Ow Show at 50: From Cultural Rebellion to Comedy Institution,” later this year.

At the end of his presentation, Radding broke Mee-Ow down by the numbers. In 50 years, Mee-Ow has had 301 cast members, 1,100 staff and musicians, 84 different show concepts and 441 performances.

Following Radding’s history lesson, four “Cat Chat” panels filled the afternoon. Writer and producer Eric Gilliland (Communications ’84) hosted the first panel with TV makers and screenwriters, including Liz Cackowski (Communication ’99) and Justin Spitzer (Communication ’99), who discussed the changing entertainment industry and staying “hopeful” when job prospects are limited.

The second panel, hosted by actress and Saturday Night Live alum Ana Gasteyer (Communication ’89), welcomed Mee-Ow alumni in careers outside of Hollywood — from candy store owner Richard Radutsky (Communication ’85) to political organizer Saskia Young.

“I think that improv, where your own survival is sort of dependent upon the other people you’re working with, the other players — making eye contact, listening and continuing to develop a story together regardless — that sort of cooperative foundation can be applied to an incredible number of situations,” Gasteyer said.

Actor Josh Meyers (Communications ’98), brother of fellow Mee-Ow alum Seth Meyers (Communication ’96), hosted the “Improv Worldwide” panel. Highlights included Dan Patterson, who co-created “Whose Line is it Anyway?” and Pep Rosenfeld (Weinberg ’90), who co-founded Boom Chicago, an improv and sketch comedy group based in Amsterdam. Rosenfeld said Boom Chicago’s successful format is inspired by his time in Mee-Ow.

The final panel of the day, hosted by writer and actress Jill Alexander (Communication ’97), brought the most familiar faces to the stage. Among the actors and storytellers were Anjali Bhimani (Communication ’96), Kristen Schaal (Communication ’00), Romy Rosemont (Communication ’85) and Mulroney.

Current Mee-Ow cast member and Communication sophomore Walter Todd said they enjoyed the writers’ panel most. Interested in showrunning post-grad, Todd said they felt the writers gave the “most true and honest insight” on the industry.

Todd and the rest of the “now-Mee-ows” — the current Mee-Ow cast — had the opportunity to interact and chat with alumni across all eras of the show in the “All-Star Improv Comedy Jam” and other social events this weekend.

“It’s really something that changes people’s lives, and it’s already changed mine, but just knowing that I am in Mee-Ow and all of these people have been in Mee-Ow, that gave us a connection just right off the bat,” Todd said. “It seemed like they were very invested in my future and all of the people in Mee-Ow.”

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the number of Mee-Ow Show performances. The Daily regrets the error.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @lexipgoldstein

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