Oberlin Improv Entertains with Impromptu Humor
My friends always tell me that I should have my own TV show. “You’re just that random and hilarious,” they say. It’s true; my weird spontaneity is something I take a lot of pride in, but it’s something I don’t think I could do in front of an audience. Last Friday, there was a huge audience at The Cat in the Cream viewing a different type of randomness — improv.
“Improv” is short for “improvisation,” for those of you who don’t know. It’s a performance that has no set script and is made up on the spot using helpful, but vague, guidelines. Three improv groups performed last Friday night as a fundraiser for the upcoming improv conference, which will be held at Oberlin in late April.
First up was a group called Primitive Streak. I arrived late, as usual, and was surprised to find the room packed full of people excitedly awaiting the show. Primitive Streak is made up of eight people, and immediately they announced that they would be playing a game called “Optimist Primal Rage.” Several people cheered, as if they recognized the game — obviously, it is quite well known.
I have to admit I was a little confused as to what was going on. It was funny, but also perplexing. I remember at high school improv shows, the members would explain the games ahead of time in case they had new audience members. We got no explana-tion, but it was funny nonetheless.
Primitive Streak went on to play a series of games, all involving weird, random and hilarious one-liners such as, “It is I! The genie of the blender!” Random? Yes. Amusing? Yes. Confusing? Definitely. But overall, wildly entertaining.
After an hour of primitive spontaneity, a group called Boredom came out to perform a skit about drugs and alcohol and how both of those things are very bad (especially when mixed). Boredom is a semi-improv skit that performs downtown at the New Union Center for the Arts every Monday night at 10 p.m. They informed us, in a classroom scene, that drinking and doing drugs will ultimately lead to murdering hookers and beavers. It is my hope that because of their performance, many beavers’ lives will be spared from here on out.
But as Boredom left the stage, I noticed that the room, which was once packed full of people, was now so full there wasn’t any space to walk. It wasn’t long before I realized why: The Sunshine Scouts were up next.
Here’s something that must be noted about the Sunshine Scouts: They come adorned with their very own pianist. You really must be good if you have your own musical accompaniment. And the Sunshine Scouts, along with their background music, did not let me down at all. There were 12 members (13 if you count Mozart), and they instantly threw themselves into a weird bar skit involving an innocent audience member.
The fun did not end there. With their accompanist setting the mood in the background, the Sunshine Scouts brought real-life Oberlin situations into their humorous skit. There was a kid who lost his eyesight because of some bad corn in Stevie. Fortunately, the antidote, “Coke” was nearby. There were stabs at vegan cooking and many of the actors couldn’t keep straight faces themselves.
But here’s what took the gold medal for the night: While crossing many lines, two of the male performers took the roles of a priest and a small boy. Amusing? Yes. Hilarious? Yes. Controversial? Yes, please.
But the moment that made the entire night worthwhile was when the two simultaneously broke into a full-fledged Broadway song about finally having a home, the priest’s Venus Flytrap dancing along with the music.
So here are the things I learned on Friday night. One, I could never do improv professionally. Two, if you see a sign that says the words “free” and “improv,” it’s a must-see. Three, if you get addicted to drugs, you will eventually murder a beaver. And four, never bake vegan cookies when a man with large arm muscles is after you.
If you would like to learn valuable lessons such as these, be sure to keep an
eye out for these groups. Check out the improv conference coming up in April.
After all, laughter is the best drug and it does not lead to dead beavers,
which, in my opinion, is always a bonus.