The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday January 20th

Two UNC professors to battle at DSI Comedy's "Oh the Humanities"

When UNC Shakespearean English professor Mary Floyd-Wilson was asked if she had a message for medieval historian and professor Brett Whalen, her only response was, “Tell him I'm gonna go medieval on his ass.”

The two professors are opponents in tonight's "Oh the Humanities" mock game show and comedy program at DSI Comedy Theater. 

UNC professors will be put to the test as they face off in a series of games ranging from rapid-fire trivia to “the big unanswered question,” where DSI comedians will attempt to solve puzzles in the professors’ fields. 

"Oh the Humanities" is a product of the partnership between DSI and UNC's humanities program. The two have been, and will continue to, release NightLabs, a series of events that fuse comedy and scholarship — as well as competition.

“I do think one of the goals of the programs in humanities is to connect the campus and faculty in the wider Chapel Hill community,” Whalen said. 

According to its website, "Oh the Humanities" vows to put UNC faculty in "compromising positions." 

“We wanted to go with people that we knew had thick skin,” said Max Owre, executive director of programming in the humanities. “There’s going to be a slight level of mockery. We’re looking for scholars that have interesting work, who are good on their toes and who are friendly and humorous people in general.” 

While Owre insists that "Oh the Humanities" is not a substitute for an actual lecture with either of these decorated professors, he does believe that watching these scholars intellectually spar will ignite a level of interest in the professors’ subject matter.

“It’s a fun way to play with intellectual discourse,” Floyd-Wilson said.

While the event will be fun and playful, Floyd-Wilson said she's there to win. 

“If it has to do with points gained in terms of answers right, I won’t win. If it has to do with funnier answers, I will win,” she said.

“I would say my chances of winning are about the same as the French at the Battle of Bouvines,” Whalen said. 

The medieval battle was a decisive victory for the French in the 13th century. 

Owre, Whalen and Floyd-Wilson are clear about one thing: this event has no specific demographic.

“It’s a wide-open demographic. It’s satisfying for us to see wide age ranges blending together. Everyone’s welcome,” Owre said.

“I think people of all ages should come; it should be students, people in town, the regular comedy crowd to see the DSI shows, other faculty — anyone. I don’t think it’ll be specialized kind of show. Definitely students,” Floyd-Wilson said.

Owre remained neutral in his prediction of the winner, stating that he believes the audience will be the real winner. But Whalen did have a response to Floyd-Wilson’s initial comment.

“Tell her I’m also a fan of Pulp Fiction.” 

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