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The Daily Tar Heel

CHiPs and Company Never Sleep During Show

24 Live
Hamilton 100

How do you stay up for more than 24 hours straight without losing your mind?

You drink Red Bull.

How do you weave together 24 hours of improv comedy and still remain funny?

You "fire it up!"

When Zach Ward and his crew of comedians from as far away as Canada decided to host a 24-hour improv-a-thon on the cluttered stage of 100 Hamilton Hall, they were aiming high.

Think about the all-night study sessions for that economics exam. Think about those Saturday nights when you don't hit the bed until the sun is breaking over the trees. Think about sitting in the Undergraduate Library through three security guard shift changes.

Multiply that by 10 and then try to make a room full of college students laugh.

But 24 Live! dealt with its challenge through proficient acting, group reassurance and an inspirational catchphrase -- "Fire it up!"

Even after more than 22 hours performing on the stage, thinking on the spot and dancing in front of heat lamps, the cast was still witty, talented, quick and hilarious -- and surprisingly coherent.

Through a series of improv games -- from those made famous by television's "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" to lesser-known and more demanding Chicago-style scenes -- the crew kept the audience constantly engaged.

A song about people not watching where they are walking turned into a chant -- "Kum By Ya" swaying included -- about dog poop on the sidewalk.

Eight actors recreated their vision of an audience member's dream complete with messy roommates and Ward pretending to be a heat pad.

Most impressive was a Chicago-born game that Ward said is true improv at its rawest. "Herald" was a fast-paced and oddly emotional game that took the poem "The Road Less Traveled" and turned it into a 10-minute assault. Though confusing at times, the scenes were vivid and amusing. But above all, "Herald" proved that the performers were not just crazy college kids acting silly for cheap laughs but talented actors -- experienced and proficient in the art of improv.

But all joking aside, what the actors did was truly inspiring, and their love for their work shined throughout -- especially in last hour.

Amid tears of joy and exhaustion, the troupe waved away the last few minutes before a standing ovation and kept chanting even after the deadline -- "Fire it up!"

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The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at artsdesk@unc.edu.