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TBA, BG get audience to slap their knees with slap stick comedy

By Ben Benson

Section: Arts

October 14, 2016

On Saturday night, Brandeis improv comedy staples Bad Grammer and TBA performed a joint show unlike their usual coffeehouse fare. The cross-over show featured members of both troupes divided into two teams.

The two teams showed up at the Pollack lecture hall at 10 p.m. ready to entertain the rowdy crowd, which was so large that many were left sitting on the stairs or standing in the back of the large lecture hall.

The show began strong with a hilarious bit in which TBA’s Becca Groner ’17 and Bad Grammer’s Hauke Ziessler (HS) flirted outrageously with a member of the audience. The two improvisers played off each other seemingly effortlessly, with the crowd hooting and hollering with laughter after each line was delivered. Ziessler, the only graduate student performing in a Brandeis improv troupe, wowed throughout the night with his off-kilter brand of comedy.

The show was hosted by two smartly dressed improv newbies, Bad Grammer’s Blair Webber ’20 and TBA’s Evan Moloney ’20. The two hosts served both as emcees and directors of the show, often in charge of deciding when bits started and ended and when improvisers were to switch roles. It was also Webber and Moloney who handled audience contributions, picking a single word from the cacophony that ensued every time they called for a suggestion.

Many of the games were easily recognizable as the same used by both troupes at their regular shows. The show was hit or miss with its jokes, but the performers were able to make up for the blunders with their strong senses of humor. A couple of performers stood out throughout the show. There was Bad Grammer’s oddball graduate student from Germany, whose one-liners elicited roars from the audience. TBA newbie Abby LeRoy ’20 exhibited excellent comedic timing throughout the night, especially during a “Weekend at Bernie’s”-style game, which had her manipulating her castmates like puppets. TBA’s Julia Green ’18 left the crowd in stitches during the closing line game. Also notable was TBA’s Conor Amrien ’19, whose energetic performance style helped keep the show lively. A surprising but welcome addition to the cast was transfer student and former Bad Grammer member Zak Benedek, who came in from Cornell to crack jokes with his old crew.

One of the more shocking moments of the night was during Bad Grammer’s staple game “ice bucket,” this time played by TBA’s Green and Amrien, who took turns improvising a scene with Bad Grammer’s Lauren Stark ’20. In a cruel twist, while one of the TBA performers was doing the scene, the other had to keep their head submerged in a bucket of cold water. When they ran out of air, they tapped the table and switched places, leading to some crazy moments in which a drenched, shivering improviser had to piece together their scene in the few seconds before having to dive back into the bucket so their partner could breathe. By the end, the crowd was thoroughly impressed with their improv comedy chops.

In total, the crossover show was not the most cohesive improvisational comedy performance Brandeis has seen. That said, it was very fun to watch and the audience seemed to be having a great time. The general vibe of the show was best exemplified by the fact that as soon as the show ended, a dance party erupted with performers and audience members alike partying on the “stage” at the floor of Pollack for quite some time. This was exactly the sort of event we needed to remind us that Brandeis still knows how to have fun.

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