When I was a wee freshman, I had the pleasure of running into Paul Casperson at the DeBono table right after I had signed up for an audition for an A Capella choir on quad day. After 5 minutes of talking to him and another DeBono member, Matt Strick, I walked away thinking "Those are my people." I promptly walked back to the A Capella table and crossed my name off of the audition list.
A week later, I auditioned for DeBono and, to my astonished delight, made the team. I learned a lot that year. The two things that stand out in my mind are the Harold, a long form of improv, and how to properly pour a beer.
Fast forward to now. I am a senior member of DeBono about to graduate early and leave all of this behind. This, without a doubt, is one of the most sad things I've had to do. Still, it's the right time in my life, and I couldn't be more excited for my future.
As I pack up to leave this place, I am looking back and really appreciating everything DeBono has done for me. I couldn't be more proud of how far this team has come. Especially in designing our own musical form which took (and still takes) a lot of hard work, love, sweat, tears, blood, hair, skin, limbs... uh. So, anyway, it's been a lot, but I've loved every second. No matter what was going on in my life during my time here at U of I, DeBono was near always the thing that held me up. Practice became a sacred place where I was accepted and no one judged me. I went through a really rough patch a while ago, and this team really helped me stay afloat. I will always be grateful for that.
Last year, we had the chance to compete in the College Improv Tournament. I am hard pressed to remember a time when I was more proud. Our musical form was in its infancy, but we nailed it. We ended up getting 2nd place in the regional and were (very) close to securing a wild card spot at nationals. Of course, it wasn't about winning. But, we did prove to ourselves that our hard work and love for the form is real and worth our while. I am still so happy for our team. Of course, that year would never have heeded so much progress without the gracious help of our first accompanist, Robby. A genius improviser and guitarist with the fingers, voice, and brain of an angel mixed with the blood of Jimmi Hendrix and the soul of improv itself. He continues to be an integral part of the team.
In the past couple of years, I've had the pleasure of helping teach new members. Each year has brought in completely different people, and each one has been valuable. Clare, bless your heart for staying at that terribly awkward and deserted audition last year. I'm so glad you stayed. Simeon, thank you for continuing to try out. You have been such an important part of the team and my life. Sweeney, man oh man you've got to be one of the most entertaining, random, and hilarious people I know. Jordan, you are so much more than I could have ever asked. Nick, darnit, I love you. Every second you become a stronger improvisor. I trust you with my actual and improv life. Jaime, I've known you for a long time. You legitimately surprised me with your audition and what you had to offer DeBono. You are strong and damn near fearless. I'll miss your presence and your determined improv.
This year, we were fortunate to take on three new people. All beautiful and wonderful girls. Each of them has a very special and unique thing to add to the team, which we would be so unfortunate to miss. Julie, one of our accompanists, has taken this crazy form by the horns. You are a flippin genius, and I really thank you for what you have to offer to this team. We couldn't do this without you. Kimi, your spice really kicks us up a notch. You make practice and shows so fun and truly silly. You remind us not to be so damn serious. And Jessica. I feel like you emanate pure sunshine. You are such a great joy to be around and improvise with.
I love you all, and I am so proud.
Of course, there's Michael Friggin Gaschler. We made the team at the same time. We grew up together. I feel like we have a mutual understanding of where this team came from and how much we have grown. You are a great comfort. I feel like I'm breaking some kind of blood bond by leaving. But, I know you will continue to be the wise elder that you are naturally.
I love each and every person on this team with all of my heart. This last semester has been so special.
I remember my first show. I was so scared. And, at the time, I didn't feel supported by everyone on the team. I can truly say that tomorrow brings no fear with my last performance with DeBono. I feel I have total support and love from each of my team members. I know tomorrow will be amazing no matter what. This team has been my home for 3.5 years. I may have made other teams, which I love, but this team is where I come from. DeBono was the first thing that took my hand while I strayed around the grand expanse that is U of I. Tomorrow, I will say goodbye to something I love so much. But fear not, I will always be part of this team in my heart. I will return to visit and be blown away by how far the team will continue to go.
Goodbye DeBono. Thank you for everything.
I love you so much,