Harvard Improvisational Comedy Troupe To Honor Wayne Brady

Comedian to be acknowledged for accomplishments in improv

Harvard’s improvisational comedy troupe The Immediate Gratification Players has named Wayne Brady as the Immediate Gratification Player of the Year for his accomplishments in improvisational comedy, and the troupe will honor his talent with a show performed in his honor on March 25.

This is the second year the group has given the award, as last year the troupe honored “Curb Your Enthusiasm” co-star Jeff Garlin.

Benjamin W. K. Smith ’12, the Czar of IGP, said that the group picked Brady because, as a cast member of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”, he inspired many members to do improvisational theater.

“Wayne Brady is improv comedy,” IGP member Scott A. Levin-Gesundheit ’11 said. “The chance to spend the night with him is a total honor.”

Brady, the host of “Let’s Make a Deal,” has guest starred on a myriad of television shows.

Smith said that when the troupe brainstormed candidates to honor this year, Brady was “at the top of their list,” and that they were thrilled when Brady agreed to come and perform.

Unlike other awards that bring celebrities to campus, Smith said that the show honoring Brady will be interactive and open to the entire Harvard community.

Levin-Gesundheit said that IGP members will present Brady with one of their signature red and yellow neckties, making him an honorary player of the troupe. IGP will then perform improvisational comedy based on monologues that Brady will deliver. A portion of the show will allow the audience to ask Brady questions.

Smith said that this award was specific to actors with significant achievements in improvisational comedy, an area of acting that is often overlooked.

“[The Player of the Year Award] is very specific to improv comedy,” Smith said. “We decided to start this last year because we really wanted to recognize people in improv.”

Smith said that although many actors have backgrounds in improvisational comedy, their efforts and talent in the art are rarely awarded.

IGP is one of two improvisational groups on campus, and was founded by freshmen in 1986.

Since then, the troupe has performed for various audiences on and off-campus, and its annual comedy festival attracts troupes from around the nation. The group published a how-to book about improvisational comedy for students earlier this year.

—Staff writer Caroline M. McKay can be reached at carolinemckay@college.harvard.edu.

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