Improvisation group welcomes new member
Amid the eager buzz of the audience, the merry tune of “Happy Birthday” rose gently from the back of the room. The audience eventually quieted, turning just in time to witness the energetic entrance of improvisation comedy group “To Be Announced” to a makeshift stage as they celebrated the induction of a new member, Lena Burdick ’21.
After a short introduction and an explanation of the name of the event, “TBA has a baby,” the group started with a game called “press conference.” In this exercise, one of the members is sent out of a room and the audience decides a crime he has committed, after which point he re-enters and must try to guess his crime based on questions from his fellow comedians. The audience decided that Seneca Scott ’20 broke a vape in the gym with his roommate, a scenario Scott guessed relatively quickly. When asking questions, comedians impersonated journalists from such esteemed publications as “Weed Magazine” and “The New York Times.”
The next skit, “Menage a trois,” followed three couples as they encountered some kind of problem. When one couple froze and the focus shifted to another, the next couple would have to use the final line from the previous couple. The scenes ranged from awkward dates in the woods (a theme which evolved into a running joke throughout the performance) to a gynecologist and a dermatologist (one of whom was jailed), and the skit attracted many laughs.
TBA surprised their new member during their fourth skit, “Ding,” by adding a new component, called “Lena Ding.” In this skit, a set of events unfold between two people, until one of them is “Dinged” and replaced with another member, who must continue acting out the events as if nothing has happened. The “Ding” can also be used to make an actor who is already present repeat or change the line they just said. The “Lena Ding,” however, required that the actor in question be replaced by Burdick. The skit in question centered around two roommates whose obsessions with each other might have been considered creepy — if the other didn’t feel the same way. The overacted lesbian tension and ridiculous admissions of the roommates earned the group a number of strong laughs.
Next the group traded monologues, taking a topic from the audience, which happened to be “crocs.” The monologues ranged from childhood memories to the dramas of shoe store clerks. At some point during the performance, the scenes shifted to contain two, then three, then four members, and their themes began to branch out to contain other jokes that had been made during the monologues or previous skits. Members would tap one or both members out to signify that they wished to shift the scene and would often base part of their new scene on a previous scene or reference a previous joke. These interactions evolved organically, easily unnoticed, and soon enough, three or four members were present in most of the skits. During this portion of the evening, scenarios ranged from a vaguely homicidal Uber driver conversing with his fare to a burrito-centered protest to a paint therapist whose students ate paint to a candy store that didn’t sell candy.
TBA ended the evening with a skit involving taking a word from the audience and using it to construct sentences such as “Sex with me is like …” or “I used to date …” Words chosen included “Chinese food,” “glasses” and “eyebrow,” and each one-liner earned the group a roar of laughter from the audience. One of the final quips was delivered by newbie Lena Burdick herself: “A relationship with me is like glasses — no contact.”
After a clamor of applause and a standing ovation, TBA melted into their spirited audience and received the congratulations of their friends and other attendees, identifiable only by their club shirts. According to Scott, (perpetrator of the vape crime in the first skit), the secret to improvisation is clear. “It’s all about the chemistry,” he said of improv as a whole. Given the number of laughs received, the presence of chemistry within TBA can surely be extrapolated.