Crowd laughter engulfs Merrick Theater
Published: Monday, October 8, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 8, 2012 21:10
Last Thursday, Oct. 9, marked an exciting night for Brandeis’ sketch comedy troupe, Boris’ Kitchen. Their annual performance, The Old Sh*t Show, was held at the Merrick Theater in the Spingold Theater Center. Upon opening the theater’s front door, friendly chatter and laughter could be heard from down the windy hallway minutes before the show even started. First-years through seniors, audience members cozied up to one another, sitting closely together on the floor of the medium-sized theater and eagerly craning to see the performers work their magic.
Boris’ Kitchen has been making Brandeis laugh for over two and a half decades, and their hilarious tradition is being kept strong by a growing cast every year. Out of a dozen performers in total, Thursday’s show featured new members Emily Duggan ’15, and Dennis Hermida ’16, Jason Kasman ’16 and Deesha Patel ’16.
As the lights dimmed a few minutes after 8 p.m., the stark white theater resonated with an uproarious wave of applause and cheers. As students in the audience called out to their friends who were about to perform, one couldn’t help but smile. The show opened with a sketch about a boy and a girl arguing over the best times and places to eat pizza bagels—in the operating room, at a funeral, anytime at all, really—which the audience absolutely loved. So much, in fact, that sitting in the crowd, I could even see people around me inching closer to the performers as the show went on.
The third sketch was an audience favorite, as several performers sat at desks and put on high-pitched, child-like voices and looked to a frazzled teacher chasing pills (candy) with a bottle of Jack (liquor not included). The “kids” were hilarious, and each played up stereotypes we are all familiar with, like the troublemaker boys who poke fun and the class know-it-all. The “teacher” announced to the class that it was the day for a sex education lecture due to budget cuts, and the first massive wave of laughter from the audience ensued. The know-it-all cried out “But teacher, we’re only in second grade!” and an even more massive wave of laughter erupted. Even she didn’t know enough to get the humor of the teacher’s outrageous routine, the hilarity was certainly not lost on the audience. By the end of the sketch, among several other bizarre but sidesplitting moments, the teacher’s pet read from a racy, 50 Shades of Grey-esque romance novel in order to teach the lesson, and the entire class burst out bawling when they figured out what the book was really about and that, no, there was no friendly stork who dropped them at their parents’ doorstep one lucky day. The audience went wild with laughter, probably wishing that they too could revert to their second -grade selves and cry hysterically from time to time.
My personal favorite sketch was one that received the most laughter and started with a simple premise: a doctor and a patient. The patient, a young man who was new in town, waited twitchily to see the town’s most-beloved doctor. The doctor entered, swathed in a brightly colored costume, bobbing her head and pulsing her hips to some exotic beat heard only by her, staring intently at the quizzical patient. She asked him where his pain was—rather asked him to show her—and whipped out a voodoo doll and a stick to poke it with. He hesitantly touched the stick to the doll and the “doctor” shrieked in pain, then erupted with laughter, with a “just kidding!” I probably laughed the loudest at this one.
There were upwards of a dozen sketches in all, appealing to different types of humor. They were shocking, subtle, outrageous and not one left the audience wanting for a laugh. Other sketches ranged from bacon fights to accidentally drinking from a bidet, from a son overhearing his parents having phone sex to Mario and Luigi getting in trouble with the law. In a word, the show was hysterical.
Although one may not have realized it at first viewing, after reflecting on the show, it is clear that it was much more than just a comedic performance. The sketches addressed serious themes—religion, social conflicts in history, stereotyping and prejudice, politics—with humor but never in a way that was offensive. The performers’ comfort in front of a large, leering group added immensely to their sketches. Each member of Boris’ Kitchen had obviously invested hours in rehearsing, as every laughable line was delivered seamlessly and their comedic timing was commendable. When the next Old Sh*t Show rolls around, Brandeisians will be truly missing out if they choose not to go.