To acquire wisdom, one must observe

Improv showcase entertains and recruits new members

On Sept. 1, students from different corners of campus were all sprinting toward one location: Ridgewood Commons. It was, once again, that time of the year when Brandeis University’s four improvisational comedy groups perform for an audience of new and returning students in the annual Improv Comedy Showcase, a showcase that serves as a tidbit for first-year students of what the university has to offer.

This year’s show began with False Advertising, followed by Crowd Control, TBA and Bad Grammer. The showcase allowed the groups  to demonstrate their compelling comic prowess for students who may want to audition.

False Advertising, the only improv group that incorporates music,  took the stage first. They decided to start the night with a game where the audience picked the subject, opting to go with the word “soap.” In fact, this random word was used in quite a few of their skits throughout the performance, including the skit about priest “Soapiness,” which drew big laughs out of the audience. Even though False Advertising did not put to use too much of their uniqueness as a musical improv group, they managed to engage the audience thanks, in part, to their fresh and amusing material and to their performers, who were able to be frisky, fierce and, of course, funny. The group had their auditions the next night and welcomed one new member into their troupe.

Crowd Control started off their performance with a line game, the classic “I like my [x] like I like my [y]” formula.  Some raunchy yet humorous phrases were created. Like False Advertising, Crowd Control also tackled skits based solely on a word that was presented by the audience (the selected word was pickle). However, some jokes fell flat, forcing the performers to rapidly shift to another skit, leaving the one they started unfinished. The highlight of Crowd Control was their one liners and the versatility of the performers to become colorful characters in a matter of seconds. The group will host auditions in the Shapiro Residence Hall Lounge Monday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m.

When the third group, TBA, took the stage, they picked a volunteer from the audience and conducted a brief interview with the individual, who turned out to be naturally funny. Then two performers decided to play a game with him, in which they recited a romantic love speech, both declaring their love for the audience member. As they recited the poem, they would constantly tack on random words, again all volunteered by the audience. This created a playful, absurd swirl to the speech’s meaning. After the declarations, the volunteer had to decide between one of the two performers to break the love triangle. TBA also performed various line games, and most of the jokes landed well, but there were a few that were misplaced. The performers were energetic, natural and worked well with the material, but a notable quibble is that there was a cast member who apologized for not being clear enough with certain joke; in improv comedy you should always be unapologetic because there is really no wrong answer.

The fourth and final group was Bad Grammer, which does exclusively short-form improv. They performed a particularly relatable and entertaining skit for all the new first-year students in which the audience would suggest topics on how to survive during their first year of college and there would be four answers: a good one, a bad one, an evil one and a robotic one. Bad Grammer did a splendid job mocking Brandeis in a way that all students can relate to. Since they are a short-form improv group, they performed a skit about a father, a son and a chainsaw five different times, and each time they would have to perform it in a shorter amount of time. It started as a 60-second bit, then 30, 15, five, and ultimately one-second long; the increasing haste of the same skit and the rush the actors underwent is what made it a delight. Bad Grammer was a delight itself. Bad Grammer will hold auditions Wednesday, Sept. 9 in the Gluck Lobby in Upper Usdan at 9 p.m.

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