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10 Questions with VUDU | Valparaiso University


1. How was VUDU formed?
VUDU was formed in 1998 by John Santellano. In their first constitution, they wrote that “the purpose of VUDU is a simple one: make people laugh. VUDU Comedy is here to help everyone enjoy [their] time at Valparaiso University.” Since then, it has only grown into the troupe we are a part of today.

2. What is your funniest memory of VUDU?

 Olivia Tambrini: Every rehearsal brings new things to laugh about. It’s hard to pinpoint one moment. Most of the time I am doubled over laughing at rehearsal—there’s never a dull moment!

Echo Brambert: This is a tough question…it’s always a good time when we play Sardines in the VUCA. Because what’s NOT funny about a bunch of competitive adults playing hide and seek?

Jovanis Prodanich: It’s hard to think of a specific memory because funny things happen every rehearsal! One memory that comes to mind is the first time Madeleine and I played limerick. We were both horrible at the game, and we couldn’t stop laughing!

Natalya Reister: I don’t think I can isolate any one memory as the funniest because everyone in VUDU is constantly creating hilarious moments. 

Maeve Scheltens: My favorite VUDU memory is laughing so hard I actually peed my pants once at rehearsal.

Ben Sommers: Some of my favorite memories come from instances outside of VUDU rehearsals. Getting dinner together, hanging out, playing games, VUDU members are such naturally funny people that every moment is “pee your pants” hilarious.

Madeleine Koetke: This feels like an impossible question to answer, but some of my favorites have been instances when bits go completely off the rails in rehearsals and all the weird chaos that happens in the moments between games. 


3. What is the best joke you have told?


Olivia Tambrini: You’ll have to ask the audience!

Echo Brambert: All of them.

Jovanis Prodanich: Probably the Wasp…

Natalya Reister: Who’s to say?

Maeve Scheltens: My life’s story

Ben Sommers: I’ll let you in on a secret. The funniest joke ever told is taking pretend objects that others are holding, and eating them. Works every time.


4. What can campus members expect at a VUDU performance?

 Olivia Tambrini: Laughs, obscure shirt names, and sometimes a puppet.

Echo Brambert: Expect to shout out suggestions, or even participate in a game! We love to ask, and it’s a fun way for the audience to get involved in our shows.

Jovanis Prodanich: A loose environment where you can alter the performance with your suggestions and laugh at the chaos those suggestions cause!

Natalya Reister: They should expect to be transported into a world of spontaneous characters, hilarious games, and lots of laughter. 

Maeve Scheltens: 11 idiots having fun 

Ben Sommers: Nobody knows. Not even us, it’s improv, remember?

Madeleine Koetke: Eleven college-aged toddlers with a lot of confidence laughing hysterically at their own jokes


5. How can students sign up, if they are interested?

 We host auditions at least once a year in the fall semester. We teach you how to play our games, what improv even is, and how you can improve your skills.

6. What is your major & graduation year?

 Olivia Tambrini: History major with minors in German, theology, and TESOL. I am planning to graduate in May 2025.

Echo Brambert: Digital media major with a minor in music. I graduate in May 2024!

Jovanis Prodanich: Computer engineering major with a minor in physics. I plan to graduate in May 2025.

Natalya Reister: Sociology major with a minor in theology. Planning to graduate in 2025.

Maeve Scheltens: Secondary English education, I graduate this May (2023)

Ben Sommers: Health sciences in Valpo’s physician assistant program. I’ll be graduating in May 2023 with my bachelor’s degree, and will start graduate school here at Valpo this August until I receive my master’s degree in 2025.

Madeleine Koetke: Creative writing major with minors in film and media studies and humanities. I plan to graduate in May of 2025.


7. Why do you think it’s important to have VUDU on campus?

 Olivia Tambrini: College is hard. We’re all young, confused, stressed, and overbooked. I think it is important to have a safe and entertaining space for students to forget their worries for an hour or so. VUDU has brought me so much joy as a member, and I want to share this joy with everyone who attends our shows.

 Echo Brambert: It’s a great way to meet people: Our members are involved in Christ College, FSL, St. Theresa’s, the theater department, student life, and so much more. I’ve met some of my best friends through this club, and I wouldn’t have joined my sorority without it! VUDU brings people together.

 Jovanis Prodanich: Before joining VUDU, I often would attend VUDU shows to get a couple of laughs in for the day and have fun! Now, as a member of VUDU, I hope that we can serve the same purpose to our audience!

 Natalya Reister: VUDU creates a space in which all kinds of people can come together and find a joyful community. Every show is different which means each audience leaves with a shared experience that is unique to them. The laughs that both the audience and actors share raise spirits and foster relationships among people who might not have met. 

 Maeve Scheltens: There’s enough sadness in the world, and we don’t want to contribute to that. On our performance days, we just want to be the reason that somebody smiled that day.

 Ben Sommers: We’re all training to do something remarkably serious in life. Get a job, join the workforce, start a family. VUDU has seen future educators, physicians, researchers, engineers, therapists, weather forecasters, and statisticians. With so much that is serious, don’t we deserve the chance to have a little levity and laughter?

 Madeleine Koetke: School – and life in general – can be really anxiety inducing, and we spend so much time trying to figure out the right things to do at any moment and the right answers to questions. The beauty of improv is that pressure is gone. For three evenings a week we get to leave our self-consciousness and perfectionism at the door and have fun with some silly people, and that’s what I hope people get out of our shows as well. 



8. Who is your favorite comedian?

 Olivia Tambrini: This is a tough question. I love the wit of Stephen Colbert, the sarcasm of John Mulaney, the observation of Hasan Minhaj, the dryness of Richard Ayoade, the talent of Quinta Brunson, and the realness of Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

Echo Brambert: Katt Williams. His way of storytelling—the drama, the facial expressions, the vulgarity—is hilarious. Although, my good friend Amanda makes me crack up every time I see her…So, her too.

 Jovanis Prodanich: If I have to choose a specific person, it would be John Mulaney, but I also enjoy a lot of sketch comedies such as Studio C!

 Natalya Reister: Not to be all sentimental, but I would have to say my dad. Yes, there are a plethora of famous comedians I enjoy, but no one makes me laugh as frequently or as consistently as him. If it weren’t for his comedic influence, I doubt I would have a sense of humor at all. 

 Maeve Scheltens: My favorite comedian is probably Olan Rogers. I grew up watching his stories on YouTube, and he has played such a huge role in my comedic development. I also really admire the work of Robin Williams and John Mulaney.

 Ben Sommers: One of my biggest comedic influences is Pete Holmes. I listened to his specials constantly as a kid, and his levity, wit, and profound observations on the simplest of subjects has been a great inspiration to me. He is a big advocate for “loving yourself for what you are doing, not what you could be doing.” Life is simple and sweet, enjoy it for what it is, and don’t forget to laugh.


9. One word to describe the energy in the VUDU group?

 Olivia Tambrini: Family.

Echo Brambert: Corn.

Jovanis Prodanich: CHAOS

Natalya Reister: Extraordinary

Maeve Scheltens: indescribable

Ben Sommers: Rule breakers.


10. One word to encourage campus members to attend a performance?

Olivia Tambrini: Free!

Echo Brambert: Costumes.

Jovanis Prodanich: Laughter!

Natalya Reister: Entertainment

Maeve Scheltens: you’ll-regret-it-for-the-rest-of-your-life-if-you-don’t (it’s a hyphenated word)

Ben Sommers: …Comedy?



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