TBA teams up with Bad Grammer
I never thought there would be bubbly energy in my biochemistry classroom. Everyone sitting in the audience was ready to have a good time as members of Brandeis’ improv troupe, To Be Announced, walked in along with the members of Bad Grammer in their joint show “Brains vs. Brawn.” While I wouldn’t normally agree to being in a science building more than I have to, I’m glad I did last Saturday. In all my time at Brandeis I’ve never attended an improv show, so I was anticipating something fun and new.
The evening began with a game called “Radio Show.” For this game, four members of the group went onstage and acted like different radio stations as suggested by the audience. The host, Evan Moloney ’20, then orchestrated the performers at random, sometimes in unison. Conor Amrien ’19 made for an entertaining gay agenda station. His exaggerated flamboyance and jabs at Rush Limbaugh hogged the spotlight from the other preformers.
Up next came “Beatnik Poet.” This game pokes fun at slam poets. The audience gave them the words “pickle” and “mother” to include in their powerful monologues. The best poet on stage was Mitchell Redfield ’20, whose sarcastic attitude left the room in uproarious laughter. Maya Satin ’19 also had some fun at the expense of the Department of Community Living, an easy target, to extract laughs from Brandeis students.
What followed was one of the better games of the evening: “Weekend at Bernie’s.” Four members perform a scene four times, and with each subsequent attempt, a performer goes limp for the entirety of the scene. The remaining members must drag them onstage and deliver their lines — an obvious nod to the game’s namesake film. These four acted out a dispute between a lesbian couple in the Midwest who felt their relationship could not survive due to their shortage of corn. As funny as all four players were on stage, Monica Chen ’19 got the most laughs. Even while dragging her fellow performers across the floor, Chen still managed to make us laugh with her out-of-breath renditions of their lines.
Next came “Good, Bad, Evil, Yeet Advice,” during which four members go onstage and give advice to audience members who shout out their problems. The wild card, Yeet, was designated the “hype man” by audience request. As the four members rotated through each role once, it was clear Sam Gelberg ’22 was most consistently able to stir the audience into an uproar. The other three had no chance of beating Gelberg’s first go as the hype man. I was mostly looking forward to his take on problems like, “I don’t know my ABC’s.”
Afterwards, there were two-person scenes: “Invisible Man” and “Inventomatic.” In the former, Lauren Stark ’20 and Caroline Kriesen ’20 portrayed two midwives with alternative approaches to childbirth for an invisible mother. Both were goofy and fun, relying primarily on physical comedy. Oliver Leeb ’21 and Redfield performed the latter. Their goal in “Inventomatic” was to spontaneously create the rules of a game that would be called “Skipping Nickels” a name suggested by the audience. Every time the phrase “skipping nickels,” was used, Leeb decided to alter his voice and create a funny, new persona. Leeb transitioned from a 5-year-old to a 40-year-old lecturing his toddler brother.
The best scene of the night may have been “Ding Cube,” in which four members rotate at the random ding of a bell. Only two members perform at a time, rapidly changing scenes between four different misadventures. The four performers onstage were Amrien, Cole Peterson ’22, Chen and Anna Cass ’21. They switched between an arguing pair of dog walkers, a couple exploring the Big Apple for the first time (though hilariously spinning it as two worms in an apple) and just two nuts.
From there, the troupes dropped the ball. Jokes dragged on and very rarely landed toward the end. Still, though their “Brains vs. Brawn” show didn’t end on a particularly good note, I would happily return to see more. TBA and Bad Grammer were great groups with two pretty funny casts, particularly Amrien and Chen, who gave me a reason to smile in a room at Leonard Gerstenzang Science Building.