Majoring in Mask and Wig
- by Rishi Simha
When asked to write a blog about my experiences at Wharton, I didn’t know where to start. A variety of factors make me thankful for my Penn acceptance letter nearly three years ago. The academic excellence—both of the faculty and of my peers – continues to humble me on a daily basis. The “business and more” opportunities—like my Wharton International Program to Chile and Argentina —have opened my eyes to entirely new industries. But above all, I’ve never been able to talk about my college experience without bringing up the Mask and Wig Club.
The Mask and Wig Club is the nation’s oldest, collegiate, all-male, musical comedy troupe. To be perfectly honest, when I first heard “Mask and Wig” and that description, I wasn’t really interested. Nevertheless, I went to the group’s annual Freshman Free Show during my first week at Penn and have devoted my Penn career to being a member of the group’s business staff ever since.
Perhaps what I find most compelling about my role in the group is the way in which it combines my passion for business with the group’s camaraderie. Mask and Wig is primarily known for its two productions: a fall show that features sketch comedy along with pop covers and a spring show that is a full-length musical comedy. As a member of the business staff, it is my job to help fill the seats, and I use everything I learn in my Wharton classes to do just that.
In Management 100, I learned about “vision, mission, and values.” Since then, I’ve come up with a mini-vision for my role on the business staff to “build the brand and generate revenue.” Marketing 101 taught me to conduct a situational analysis, which includes analyzing the context. Consequently, I have helped Mask and Wig embrace digital strategy full force by renovating the website, building the Facebook page and publishing content for YouTube. And as a result of taking Negotiations, I have become better at convincing local businesses to advertise in our show programs. I am currently taking Pricing Strategies, and I can’t wait to see how to apply those lessons to ticketing operations and digital strategy.
While filling seats for a genuinely funny show (where guys dress like girls pretending to be guys) is rewarding in itself, the traditions as well as the brotherhood of the group make this 125-year old organization truly special. Throngs of Quakers pack the Quad to witness the band’s annual Spring Fling performance, and each fall, we tux up and head down to our Clubhouse with a date for a Charity Ball.
We also go on tour every year with our annual production, taking cities like New York, Miami and Los Angeles by storm. Last spring, I had the pleasure of hosting the entire 44-member company at my house in North Carolina on the way from Washington, D.C., to Orlando, Fla.
An immense feeling of pride swelled within me as the company sang “There’s Only Room for One,” as a thank you to my mom as we departed. It’s a day I will not forget.
Whereas a 125-year history and annual spring break tours may be unique to Mask and Wig, a similar sense of fulfillment and camaraderie are characteristic of most groups at Penn. Whether it is the Penn Latin and Ballroom Dance team, Engineers without Borders, or a group at the Newman Center, every club at Penn has its own sense of identity. As a Wharton student, these are all opportunities to be seized. In fact, if I had one complaint about Wharton, it would be that I don’t have enough time to pursue all of the opportunities available. Each and every day, though, I am thankful to have pursued Mask and Wig.
Mask and Wig cover “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry.
Editor’s note: This blog originally appeared on the Wharton Undergraduate Program’s Student Voices blog on Apr. 4, 2014.