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Introducing the Avalancheros: Danny Pudi and friends

By Nicole Sweeney Etter

They call themselves the Avalancheros, and they'll be rolling into campus for an improv show and other special events this weekend, Nov. 5-6.

The Avalancheros are a group of Marquette alums and comedians who live in the Los Angeles area. They are Danny Pudi, Comm '01 and one of the stars of the NBC sitcom Community; and fellow funny men Pat Finn, Sp '87; Chris Marrs, Comm '98; Kevin Farley, Bus Ad '98; and John Farley. The Farleys are brothers of the late Chris Farley, Sp '86, who went on to star on Saturday Night Live and in several hit movies.

Their name is in homage to the beloved campus dive bar, better known as the 'Lanche, where Kevin Farley, his brother Chris and Finn spent many a night tossing back cheap beer.

"When you walked in you felt at home with lots of friends, laughter, and 50-cent Red White and Blues," Finn says. "It was kind of like Marquette's kitchen, where everyone would go and there was always a good time waiting."       

This group of Marquette alums reconnected through the acting/improv community in Los Angeles. Finn and the Farleys have stayed friends since their Marquette days, and Marrs and Pudi met at Marquette and then again at a Marquette basketball game in Anaheim, Calif. Pudi first met the Farley family when he won the inaugural Chris Farley Scholarship while a student at Marquette.

But this weekend's Marquette performance will be the first time all five guys have performed together in one show.

"This will be a first-time improv smorgasbord," Pudi says. "That's the fun of improv comedy you can all come play together for one night and make something up that is special and unique to everyone present. That's also the terrifying thing about improv comedy. You never know what will happen on that stage. Fun/terrifying is always a good combination."

The format of Saturday's show will be long-form improv. "Long-form is the Chicago-style improv popularized by Del Close at the ImprovOlympic that takes one suggestion from the audience and builds an entire show around it," Marrs explains. "It's different from a classic short-form improv show, which relies on games and a lot of audience interaction."

In addition to Saturday night's Late Night Marquette show, the Farleys will also record their popular comedy podcast live at 8 p.m. Friday at the Union Sports Annex. The podcast will feature Pudi as a special guest.

The guys may have honed their comedic chops at places such as Chicago's Second City and Los Angeles' iO West Theater, but several got their start at Marquette.

"I can say I definitely learned how not funny I was at MU," Kevin Farley says. "There were a lot of funny people. I still steal from them all."

Although the Avalancheros won't be able to visit the scene of their namesake, which closed in 1997, they're looking forward to revisiting other favorite spots.

"It's always good to be back on campus, reminisce about mistakes you made with your buddies and then finish the night eating way too much Real Chili," Pudi says. "I can't wait."

Who are the Avalancheros? Here are snippets from their bios:

Danny Pudi: Before his break-out role as Abed, the fast-talking pop culture junkie on NBC's Community, Pudi had recurring roles on Greek and Gilmore Girls and guest starring roles on Robot Chicken, The Bill Engvall Show and ER. His film credits include Paramount's Road Trip 2: Beer Pong and an upcoming independent horror/comedy directed by Joe Lynch. On stage Pudi can be seen performing sketch comedy and improv at various comedy festivals around the country with the groups Theme Park and Siblings of Doctors (a trio of Indian-American comedians).

Pat Finn: Finn got his start at the Second City National Touring Company. He had reoccurring TV roles on Murphy Brown, Third Rock From The Sun, Ed and My Boys. Some of his other television credits include Friends, Seinfeld, That 70's Show, Las Vegas, Wizards of Waverly Place, Curb Your Enthusiasm and, most recently, House. Finn's feature film credits include Dude, Where's My Car, Space Buddies and It's Complicated. Pat has also had commercial success with campaigns for "Got Milk?," Healthy Choice, Toyota and dozens of others.

Chris Marrs: He started in Chicago as a beat reporter, public relations stunt coordinator and bouncer while training in acting and improv. His TV appearances include roles on ER, Without a Trace, Las Vegas, Cold Case and Hot in Cleveland, among many others. Notable film credits include The Weather Man and Mr. 3000. As a writer, Marrs co-created and developed the web series LA I.C.E., which has been optioned as a television series that Marrs is co-producing with comic Howie Mandel.

Kevin Farley: After Marquette, he worked for his family's company in Madison before venturing into acting at the Second City and ImprovOlympic in Chicago. Television roles include a lead on MTV's boy band spoof 2ge+her, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The United States of Tara, Til Death, Just Shoot Me, Joey and many others. Notable films include a starring role in David Zucker's An American Carol, Black Sheep, Beverly Hills Ninja, and his feature directorial debut Hollywood & Wine.

John Farley: As the youngest of the Farley clan, John grew up in a comedy-rich environment. Like his brothers, he trained at the famed Second City in Chicago. He has appeared on television's Rules of Engagement, My Name is Earl, Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Zeke & Luther, among many others. His film appearances include Tommy Boy, David Lynch's The Straight Story, Joe Dirt, Benchwarmers, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry and Get Smart. Most recently he co-wrote and produced the feature film Hollywood & Wine with brother Kevin.


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