The Dead Alewives began as a splinter group from the Milwaukee based national comedy organization ComedySportz. The split occurred out of a desire to do a less family-oriented, more uncensored style of improv than the "clean" variety offered by ComedySportz. They took their name from the local phenomenon of multitudes of dead Alewife fish washing up on the shore of Lake Michigan during several summers in the mid '80's. Their shows always featured music from local bands during their set breaks.
The Alewives began performing in the ComedySportz theatre space in Milwaukee's Third Ward district, but called many Milwaukee area theatres home during almost 12 years of live performances. Other venues that played host to their shows included Thai Joe's, The Avalon Theatre, and The Miramar Theatre, which is where they wound up their weekly live shows in the late '90's.
The Dead Alewives approached widespread recognition many times but never seemed to enjoy the push that would launch them to national prominence. Their Dungeons and Dragons sketch from the comedy CD Take Down the Grand Master made the rounds on the internet during the late 1990s, eventually being used as the soundtrack for the popular viral video/meme Summoner Geeks ("Where are the Chee-tos? Can I have a Mountain Dew?" / "I'm attacking the darkness!"). The short also was one of the most-requested on the syndicated Dr. Demento radio program. Entertainment Weekly also once reported that the Dead Alewives were being talked to about a television sketch-comedy series, but it ultimately fell through.
The Dead Alewives ceased their weekly live performances in the late '90's, and the individual members all moved on to pursue other interests.
Francis Montgomery "Mondy" Carter — Mondy Carter was a founding member of the troupe. He lived in Milwaukee for many years and worked as an actor in the city's considerable live theatre industry. He has recently moved with his family to Asheville, NC where he hopes to continue to work on theater projects with his wife, Karen Stobbe.
Robert "Bo" Johnson — a founding member, also currently lives in Milwaukee, and works consistently in theatres around town. He plays rhythm guitar with Milwaukee-based pop band Random Maxx.
Peter Alberts — a founding member, Alberts was a staff member of Fireman Press, the self-contained publishing house that produced the popular independent comic book Scud: The Disposable Assassin. He currently lives in Los Angeles.
Rob Schrab — In addition to his tenure with the Dead Alewives, Schrab was a successful artist and writer of comic books and graphic novels for many years. When the Alewives folded, Schrab moved to Los Angeles to pursue a pending movie deal for his comic characters. When that deal got hung up in development hell, he nonetheless remained, and became a successful jack-of-all-trades within the film industry. Among his achievements: Co-writing the Dreamworks animated film "Monster House" with Dan Harmon, producing "The Sarah Silverman Show" on Comedy Central, writing and producing the unpurchased (but virally-reproduced) cult pilot "Heat Vision and Jack" (also with Harmon), and creating internet "TV channel" Channel 101, which features user-submitted content.
Dan Harmon — Harmon became an Alewife at the same time as Schrab, both having trained under Scholler and Johnson. Harmon was the creator and writer of Alewives' recordings that found some viral internet success, like "Dungeons and Dragons sketch," also known as "Summoner Geeks." He often wrote for Schrab's comic book, and after the Scud: The Disposable Assassin movie deal of the late '90's, he moved to Los Angeles with Schrab, where the two of them launched a career as screenwriting partners. Harmon has worked with Schrab on several popular creative projects, and most recently, is a producer, writer, and star of "Acceptable.TV" on VH1.
Sean McKenna — Founding member. After the Alewives ceased their live performances, he moved to the Twin Cities to continue his theatrical career, where he became the voice of the Best Buy Idea Box on television commercials and also provided the voice for the titular character in Schrab's Robot Bastard short. Sean became a copywriter and now works at an ad agency. He has two children.
Kurt Scholler — In addition to having taught improv classes to much of Milwaukee while living there, Scholler also appeared in a number of television ads for the Cousins sandwich restaurant chain. He has also appeared in small roles on a number of television shows, including Kwik Witz, Boston Legal and The West Wing. Notably, Scholler performs the physical role of the robot in Schrab's Robot Bastard short. Recently married and still performing with ComedySportz Los Angeles, Kurt continues to do commercials, film, and television including a brief cameo on The Sarah Silverman Program.
Dylan Bolin — Milwaukee based comedian and improv artist who joined the troupe after the departure of some of the original members.
Tom Clark — A stand-up comedian, currently lives in Los Angeles and has appeared on such shows as Comedy Central's Premium Blend and CBS's Late Late Show. He, too, joined after the departure of some of the founding members.
Mark Redlich — Worked with the Alewives and ComedySportz while finishing his Ph.D in Organic Chemistry. Currently lives in Milwaukee, works as a chemical analyst, and plays lead guitar in Random Maxx with Bo Johnson. Redlich is still active with ComedySportz.
Eric Price — Comedian and impressionist who did several shows with the Alewives in the stead of the departed founders.
Rollie Cafaro — A Milwaukee-area attorney and veteran of ComedySportz who filled in for absent members during a number of shows.
In the 1980s, the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons was reaching a peak in popularity and gathering an equal amount of notoriety. Misunderstandings of its fantasy settings led those glossing over the content of the game to assume that it had elements of demonology and satanism. Written by Dan Harmon, the Dungeons & Dragons Sketch makes it quite clear that kitchen table role-playing games can frequently be nothing more than creative forms of arguing over minutiae and wondering where that bag of Cheetos had gone.
There is a sequel as well, running nearly 7 minutes, and involving "magical" swords and lying blacksmiths, the true meaning of friendship (homosexuality), and a GIRL.
In 2000, Volition, Inc. released a computer animated version of the sketch titled "Summoner Geeks." It was a promotional video for the Summoner video game and featured characters from both Summoner and Red Faction. Most notably the "Where are the Cheetos?" character was played by an oversized demon, Luminar. The video was also included in the game. It played after completing the game and viewing the credits.