Comedic cooking in Boris’ Kitchen disappoints
Review — It’s quite hard for me to find a show that makes me laugh. I consider myself to be a very tough audience member to please. I rarely laugh out loud, and my taste in comedy is quite distinct, being much darker than most. One group, however, has consistently made me laugh in the past: Boris’ Kitchen.
My laughter may have been intermittent throughout the show, but nevertheless, they do what most can’t. With that said, I decided to visit their Friday performance, day one of their two-day Sketch Comedy Festival “Thirty, Flirty, and Thriving” in the Shapiro Campus Center theater. The show featured two acts with three groups: Emerson College’s “Jimmy’s Traveling All-Stars,” Yale University’s “The Fifth Humour” and our own Boris’ Kitchen.
Among the three, Yale was the funniest. Their skits were a blend of wit, perfect timing and a bit of social commentary –– everything you want in good satire. Though not every skit was a home-run, they did produce the funniest of the night: a coffee shop bartender yelling out embarrassing items ordered by the same man.
A close second was a sketch about a man whose bank account security questions caused deaths for the important people in his life. When asked to type in the name of his best childhood friend in front of his two best friends, the other is killed. It continued with his favorite teacher and so on, as if the bank were holding the man emotionally hostage just to answer their security questions. Both sketches were quick and to the point, hitting their marks with a funny punchline every time. I feel the way these sketches were executed embodied what was lacking in the rest of the show.
Sketches are usually written backwards. Once a strong punchline is thought of, the scene is set up and written for the purpose of ending with that joke, sprinkling bits of comedy along the way. The journey is usually supposed to peak at the end, not intermittently throughout. If the best joke isn’t done at the end, that’s usually what makes comedy sketches forgettable. A sketch isn’t memorable unless it sticks its landing. Most of Boris’ Kitchen’s sketches were written like regular stories. This doesn’t necessarily critique their joke-writing ability; it’s more about the final execution. Comedy depends on perfectly-timed delivery.
Because Boris’ Kitchen’s punchlines were sprinkled in the middle of their sketches, the jokes overstayed their welcome. The elongated setups not normally featured in sketch comedy diluted their punchlines with the smaller jokes.
I’m looking at the program for the evening as I write this, unable to recall the main punchline for any sketch. Everything blended together. I vaguely remember laughing at a skit involving Matt Damon on a dinosaur and a banana with a crossword in hand. The best way I can label my overall enjoyment is “amused.” I was amused by the odd mise-en-scenes, I was pleased with the jokes, I was charmed by the wacky props; but I didn’t find anything laugh-out-loud funny. It was an above-average experience that still could not live up to the high expectations Boris’ Kitchen and set with its previous shows.
I’m not claiming Boris’ Kitchen is void of talent in or out of the writer’s room, and this is not to say that I didn’t laugh during the show. There is definitely potential in these cast members and writers. I lauded their previous efforts earlier this semester!
Perry Letourneau ’20 did the funniest pratfall I had ever seen on stage! I feel that this time, much like the jokes featured, Boris’ Kitchen missed its mark. However, they were still immensely better than Emerson’s group, which I am convinced is made up of a capella rejects who turned to comedy (I came to this conclusion after half of their show consisted of singing). I could not attend Saturday’s show featuring Tufts’ “Major: Undecided,” Suffolks’ “Who’s Askin’” and Boris’ Kitchen Alumni (I think it’s a prerequisite that sketch group names be plural possessive). I wish Boris’ Kitchen luck next semester. I will definitely return, as I always enjoy their shows. This time it just didn’t do it for me.