UMass hosts local, nation-wide improv talents
On April 8 and 9 at 6:30 p.m., comedians from across the country took the stage in Bartlett 65 to showcase their comedic talents and create a room full of laughter and smiles.
The Student Valley Production event, Comedy Stock, featured 10 groups, duos and solo performers on Saturday, each with unique comedic styles. The night started off with the singing/guitar-playing group called the Futurenows. Each band member sang one of their original songs and their band mates backed them up on guitar.
The Futurenows played a few original songs including “When it Comes To You” and “Anne Marie.” The second song had a Bob Dylan-like appeal, with singer, Sean Nolan simultaneously playing guitar and harmonica. To add a comical spin to their act, the band performed an acoustic version of Aaron Carter’s “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It),” which the crowd sang along with.
After the Futurenows left the stage, the lights dimmed and a video began to play. The video was about two friends who were introducing a new student to the University of Massachusetts. They sang in true Broadway style about living areas on campus like Orchard Hill. The song included the lyrics, “Orchard Hill is the perfect place to call home, if you can survive the hike.” Next they sang about Central and how one can always find, “towels at the door and fans in every window.” After Central came Sylvan, as they sang, “at Sylvan there’s so much going on…,” followed by silence as the camera captured the quiet, bare area. Northeast was called, “A great place to call home and it’s really good at math.” Suddenly the song broke into a rap as they panned the camera towards a Southwest girl, who rapped, “taking shots in Washington, but passing out in JQA.”
After the crowd quieted their laughter from the video, Brenda!, a four-person improv group enthusiastically ran on stage and began by asking the audience to scream something random. After someone screamed “moon landing,” the group broke into a scene about the conspiracy theories behind the first moon landing. They then performed another sketch about sending their son to fat camp because, if he doesn’t get thinner, they won’t buy him any more toys.
Following Brenda! was Northampton native Sharkee Katz. Katz took the stage and took off his shoes and jacket before launching into his performance. He began by saying, “This is going to be good,” and told the audience that he used to have class in Bartlett 10 years ago when he went to school at UMass. He said he used to sit in the back of class and daydream about being “a high school teacher for three years and make lots of money. Now I’m here telling jokes for $25.”
After Katz finished his act, the Dowry took the stage. The Dowry is a six-person group from Boston, Mass. and is currently a finalist in the Boston Comedy Festival. The group performed a few sketches that had the audience bent over with laughter. The first sketch involved a lawyer naming off the known aliases of a rapper to a court. The rapper had names like “Driving Mrs. Jay-Z” and “$100-Bill Store.”
The girls of the Dowry then took the stage and acted as if they were at an engagement party. One girl opened up her first gift and, when she looked at it, the whole group would start cheering as if they were men at a football game.
The next scene was in a schoolroom, in which a teacher had hired two people to get her students excited about learning. The two people called themselves the nuisance team and used scenarios like drug dealing to teach the kids about math or the production of cocaine in order to teach them science.
UMass’s own Mission: IMPROVable was the next group to take the stage. They ran down the aisles to get the crowd excited and jumped on the stage, where they performed funny dance moves. The group then explained that they perform short-form improv and that it’s a family-friendly show with no obscene language. The performance was a series of games that included interactions with the audience.
The first game was called “pan left, pan right,” where four team members formed a square. When one member of the team shouted “pan left” or “pan right,” the team members had to pretend they were a different news station. They also played a game where one person would talk and the other would move their mouth to make it look like they were talking.
At the end of their performance, Mission: IPROVable brought up past members of the group to join in the game. Jay Petrone, a member of Mission IMPROVable said that the group gets along, “splendid, we get along splendid. Improv takes a certain amount of working together.”
Team Submarine, a two-person group from New York was the next comedic group to perform. The two men, Steve O’Brien and Nate Fernald, have been performing together for five years and O’Brien said it was “longer than any relationship I’ve had with a woman.”
Fernald and O’Brien began by explaining their hobby of going to high schools to talk about the dangers of sexting. They said that sexting has been around for a while in many different forms, including “masturbexting, sexful intermorse or by fax machine, also know as fuxing.” They acted out a scenario where sexting may occur. O’Brien played the vulnerable girl who just moved to a new school and has no friends yet with Fernald acting as the horny teenage boy.
After the laughter died down from the hilarious performance by Team Submarine, Kinda Fancy, a.k.a. Carrie Drzik, took the stage with her ukulele and began to sing. Drzik’s performance started out rocky, as she forgot the lyrics to some of her songs, but she shook it off by explaining that she’s awesome. She told a story about an eighth-grade boy she showed her chest to for a dollar so she could go buy a chocolate bar.
Drzik then sang a more personal song about a girl walking down the street under the stars. After her serious performance, she exclaimed, “Now you’ve seen my soul, want to see my panties?” Although there were a few glitches earlier in her performance, she finished strong and kept the audience laughing the whole way through.
After Kinda Fancy finished her performance, Los Dos Dudes were up next. The two men immediately began their performance by asking the audience to scream out something random. Someone shouted “laser” and they started their act. Each sketch blended into the other, and the two men were throwing their bodies all over the stage for a comedic effect.
Next up was the best performer of the night, MC Mr. Napkins from Los Angeles, who got the most laughs from the crowd. He began by explaining that he has been in love with hip-hop for a while, and his favorite artist is Big Pun. After rapping about a Big Pun song, he began his rap about toothpicks. In his rap he said, “Napkins purchase picks by the hundred pack” and “use it to remove food particles, you’ll have women taking off their clothing articles.”
The last performer was Mike Duffy, a comedian from New York City. Duffy closed the night off with great jokes and the crowd cheered at the end to commend all of the amazing performers. The night was full of fun, laughs and great performances. Everyone appeared to leave with smiles on their faces as they discussed their favorite jokes and how successful the night was.
Kaitlyn Bigica can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.