Boris shares the Kitchen with friends
Boris’ Kitchen held its annual Fall Fest two weeks ago at the Shapiro Campus Center, hosting four different sketch comedy groups from neighboring universities. They did two shows that weekend, one on Friday one on Saturday. I attended Friday’s, where Boris’ Kitchen shared Act One with Emerson College’s Jimmy’s Traveling All-Stars and Boston University’s The Callbacks. That following Saturday, they invited Skidmore’s Sketchies and Tufts’ “The Institute.” The sketches in Act Two were all written by Boris’ Kitchen members, with Perry Letourneau ’20 and Anderson Stinson ’21 serving as co-directors this year.
Jimmy’s Traveling All-Stars approached the stage first. Their opening sketch ended with a mediocre punchline, though their jokes picked up with a charming skit featuring two friends at a party whose personalities were stuck in the 1940s. Their references were witty and fun, despite inaccuracies here and there. That sketch, as well as one about a couple of old people with a new Google Home, went over best with the audience, while the others were middling at best.
Clearly the performers of the former sketch are the best in the troupe, as they played the senior citizens in the latter as well. The two elderly people seemed innocent at first with their perplexity over the device when addressing it with “Hey, Googoo” rather than “OK Google;” but the old man’s increasingly preposterous and devious requests turned the repeated phrase into a hilarious punchline. The gag left the audience in stitches with each utterance, making the bit one of the funniest in the show, from the line “sharpen my knives for me” to “when does the ambassador’s plane land?”
Then the Callbacks emerged, ready to meet the high bar that had been set. However, similar to Emerson, Boston University’s Callbacks had a poor start. The audience had neither the patience nor the enthusiasm to listen to a recording of Alvin and the Chipmunks’ Christmas song. The joke was overdrawn and unredeemed by the uncreative punchline: they were killed by exterminators with the wrong address.
Of their four sketches, the last two helped them stick the landing despite being the least funny troupe of the evening. The first of their two good sketches took place at a restaurant with two cousins having dinner. While having a serious conversation, the persistent waiter interrupted them at the most inappropriate moments. The ensuing barrage of restaurant staff and offerings of bread were amusing. The second was a satirical look at the perception of the control room of a military force in film. The commanding officer of a sci-fi invasion had to run around the room with each utterance of “Sir, you should come take a look at this,” the clichéd way to exposit information on screen. The skit got a lot of laughs from the audience but was only marginally funnier than the previous sketch.
After the intermission, Boris’ Kitchen took the stage. Unlike BU and Emerson, Brandeis had a much stronger introduction with “Santa’s Wishes,” a sketch written by Aaron Stone ’21 about children wishing for abnormal things for Christmas. Sarah Sharpe ’20 played a great straight man, as a mall Santa, lending an ear to the children’s odd requests for their parents to get divorced or their dead grandmother to stop haunting them.
The best part of the show was the entrance of the “scissor goblin.” Usually in the writer’s room for Boris’ Kitchen, Evan Mahnken ’19 was the show’s ringer who played the namesake creature. His third and final entrance in this recurring role was the funniest in “2 Leggy Boys,” written by Dane Leoniak ’20 and Letourneau. Another good sketch was Leoniak’s “Friends,” a sketch about one Black friend of a trio who watches the namesake NBC show for the first time. However, he finds out the show is brainwashing fodder for a still-alive President Nixon.
From this critic’s eyes, it seems that the veterans of Boris’ Kitchen are getting all of the best roles. Of course, they can do whatever they feel will keep the show funny, but it leaves very little room for the newbies. This doesn’t in any way diminish their comedic talent. Letourneau, Leoniak, Claudia Davis ’19 and Alan Omori ’20 are all incredibly funny onstage, but they’re all one can compliment in these shows anymore. Peirce Robinson ’22, the breakout performer of the “Old Shit Show” in October, was criminally underused in last month’s Fall Fest.
Even when it came to the scissor goblin, Boris’ Kitchen would rather give the role to a veteran writer rather than a first-year cast member. Funny as their show was, Boris’ Kitchen doesn’t take any risks with relying on their fresh blood. This is more troubling when you realize that a lot of the roles can be gender-swapped, but rarely are. Almost all of the funniest parts are given to the three male veterans, leaving even Davis in the dust sometimes. They can gender swap Santa but not a goblin? If the best roles are always given to the same comedians, the others won’t grow as performers and BK’s legacy will diminish.