Oberlin Blogs

Essays and Sunshine Scouts

October 19, 2009

Joe Dawson ’12

Setting: Science Center Atrium, Thursday, October 15, Midterm week. Joe begins typing his 5th page of a roughly 6-page paper, and is running out of steam. Already has finished a Neuroscience midterm, Environmental Studies quiz, and Sociology take-home test this week. Needless to say, Joe feels flustered. The ennui moves slowly into his psyche like an asthmatic kid finishing the mile run in gym class. He has certainly earned the bathroom break he is on the verge of taking. A mammoth heave brings him out of his chair, and he struggles towards the bathroom like an asthmatic kid finishing the mile run in gym class. This brings us to the very point when...

I spied a small black and white poster with a strange, rubbery-armed creature on it advertising a Sunshine Scouts show that very evening, but ten minutes from the very moment which it was at the time, Zounds! If you aren't aware, Oberwiki describes the Sunshine Scouts as an "Oberlin long-form improv group, founded in spring of 1999. The Sunshine Scouts regularly perform at the Cat in the Cream as well as a number of other locations on campus. The Scouts are known for having a piano player, being taboo, and regularly 'packing the Cat.'" Now, the Scouts and I have a little history; I went to their first show of the year last fall, loved it, and tried to get to as many other shows as I could throughout the year. The group improvises an entire play from one suggestion from the audience, so the shows are up and down in terms of plot and continuity, but they're always very funny.

So this year, when I saw auditions for the Sunshine Scouts advertised on posters across campus, I thought "What the hell?" and tried out. After a pretty shaky first day of getting my improv legs back, I thought that that would be the end of ol' Joe's improv career. I didn't have much hope for a callback, but I still didn't sleep that night until I got an email at 1 AM saying, in slightly different rhetoric, that the Scouts were way into my stuff and wanted to see more of it. Boy Howdy! The second audition featured 7 other really funny folks, young Gilbert Gottfrieds and Joy Behars in the making. I really didn't envy the current group members in this decision. If a person makes it into the Scouts one year, they are in it for the rest of their college career, like the Jets and the Sharks, so this was to be a big decision. I did not make the cut, but the three people that did were the ones that made me laugh the most during auditions (including Tess!). So, in addition to generally liking the Sunshine Scouts, I was interested in seeing how the new meat would cook up (NICE metaphor, Joey D!).

Making my way from the bathroom to the show, I felt relieved just to be walking instead of sitting in the Science Center working on another assignment. Don't get me wrong, I love the Science Center, it's just that my backside was starting to morph around the contours of the seats, and my eyes were starting to dry out. I walked into a packed cat and carefully unpacked and freed said cat. I then walked into a packed Cat, found a seat, and waited, still reading from Thomas More's erotic thriller Utopia for my English class. A girl I recognized from auditions who hadn't made it in was trying to get a table of folks to yell 'Narcolepsy' as a suggestion when they asked for one at the beginning. Spurned as I had been by the Scouts, I was planning on giving them a rude suggestion to engage in auto erotica and storming out triumphantly. But I am a sucker for narcolepsy jokes, the main reason I watch Moulin Rouge every Friday. I contented myself to mutter "I suggest you go ____ yourselves," quietly when they asked for a suggestion at the beginning of the show. I won't go into details about the show, since I'm sure it will sound like this:

"They said this funny thing about brickmaking factories, and then they did this funny thing about Barbies. It was Fun-ny!"

Suffice it to say it was really funny. I was laughing so hard I must have sounded like an asthmatic kid running the mile in gym class. It was a great break, and I left somewhat ready to get back to work. I was a little stressed this week, but I was a little behind on things to begin with. Like my coach said earlier last week, Midterm Madness is really just a cultural construct. If you are on top of your crap, this week is no crazier than any other week when a due date for a paper happens to fall on the same day as a test. People are trying to get stuff done before Fall Break, but there is certainly more than enough time for the Sunshine Scouts.

Joe makes his way back to his seat in the Science Center. His computer is exactly where he left it, still warm and glowing. He really should have taken it with him, he thinks to himself, starting a bit. His paper he has been working on for the last few hours is on there, along with a lot of other things he would rather not lose forever. Lucky for him, his musk warded off any would-be thieves. His butt fits perfectly into the grooves in the seat, and he breathes a deep sigh, not unlike an asthmatic kid who just finished the mile run in gym class.

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