Three comedy troupes walk into a bar. But substitute the bar for Taylor Hall, Sanders Auditorium and the Shiva and add an audience of rowdy students. The punchline becomes Comedygeddon, which entails No Offense, The Limit and Happily Ever Laughter (HEL) all performing this Friday and Saturday nights.
Comedygeddon came about by accident, when all three groups scheduled shows for the same time. The scheduling conflict was initially problematic for the groups because members of all troupes enjoy seeing the other group’s shows. But the comedians soon found a way around the conflict. “Having all these shows on the same weekend initially seemed like a worst-case scenario,” said John DeLeonardis ’16. “But it’s stellar that we’ve been able to work with No Offense & HEL in staggering our shows so that people will be able to get to all three in one night. We want everyone to see everyone.”
Comedy groups collaborated to make sure that willing audience members can experience three hours filled with laughter spiraling out of control. No Offense Presents: American Fistory XXX will be at 8 p.m. in Blodgett Auditorium, with The Limit Presents: Christine starting at 9 p.m. in Sanders Auditorium and HEL Presents: World Wide International Global Federation of Championship Wrestling of Champions Television Show! at 10 p.m. in the Susan Stein Shiva Theater.
The groups found a way to turn the conflict into a fun occasion for everyone. Audience members will not only be rewarded by three hours of fun if they run around the campus from one show to another, but there is also more. President of HEL Nick Pearl ’14 wrote in an emailed statement, “If you get your #comedygeddon2014 passport stamped at all three shows on either Friday or Saturday, you will be entered into a raffle to win a $60 gift card to Bacio’s! THIS IS NOT A JOKE.”
All of the troupes maintain the goal to entertain audience members to the best of their abilities, but each group approaches comedy differently. “HEL prides itself in having eclectic tastes. There’s something here for everyone. Our sketches are game- and character-based. Our subject matter tackles everything from race relations to baseball to high school popularity,” said Pearl.
The different writing styles enrich the group’s performances. James Pedersen ’17, a new member of HEL, described his method of writing. “[We] take well-known concepts from our lives and childhoods and then turn them on their sides to reveal uncomfortable or hilarious hidden truths,” he said. “We tackle everything from makeup to Marvin Gaye and that’s all because of everybody’s subjective and stylistic contributions.”
The Limit takes a more abstract method in writing their sketches. Aidan Kahn ’14 described The Limit’s central theme, or lack thereof, and said, “The Limit does not exist. If it did exist, it would be a little wacky, a little absurd and very, very Christine.” John DeLeonardis chose to be precise in his explanation of The Limit’s mission statement. He said, “In three words: absurd, poignant, and tristesse.”
No Offense, on the other hand, has a more traditional approach to comedy. “It’s not overly avant-garde and it’s not extremely experimental. It’s a tried and true style of comedy. It is character and situational based, like everything else,” Albert Muzquiz ’17 said. “We try not to go for cheap laughs but well thought-out jokes, and if it occasionally ends up being a cheap, crude joke, it usually works; People like that.”
Muzquiz also commented on the preparation schedules of comedy groups, “For some reason, comedy groups like to make it a little harder for themselves by giving only a week for rehearsal.” Groups usually spend a lot of time writing and perfecting their sketches, and they use the week before the performance to thoroughly rehearse. Pedersen commented, “We have two days to memorize the whole show and then we just put it on over and over until it’s perfect. It’s a breakneck schedule, but that’s the cost of putting on a professional-grade show.”
Meetings are not only about memorization. Group members also enjoy their time together and frequently play rounds of duck, duck, goose or all-around party games such as [redacted], and some Wooly Willys are not infrequent,” Kahn said in an emailed statement, “Most of [The Limit’s] preparation has been physical—push-ups, sit-ups, ice baths and kayaking. Other than that we’ve done a tiny bit of writing and re-writing, philosophical musings on ‘What is Ka’médie’, and finally, the conceptualization of sets and costumes. And prayer.”
So what is going to be different about this weekend’s shows? No Offense does what they haven’t done before. “This is our first themed show. The theme is American History,” said Muzquiz.
The Limit also has one focus; as DeLeonardis stated, “This show is substantially more Christine-oriented and focused on her.” He also added, “I’ve caught wind that the one-and-only Matrix is going to be here for these shows, so people definitely don’t want to miss that! It’s not often we get that kind of celebrity.”
HEL will take a different step by bringing a live band to their stage. Pedersen said, “Incorporating live music into both transitions and sketches adds a whole new energy and excitement,” he continued, “A HEL show is always a good way to start your night, but this weekend’s show is a party fans won’t want to leave.” Pearl affirmed by saying, “this HEL show will definitely be completely different from any show we have ever done before and, I would even wager to say, has ever been done before at Vassar.”
The members of all groups are very supportive of one another, and Comedygeddon attests to the friendly atmosphere of comedy on campus. Kahn said, “Each of the comedy groups has a very different style. They evolve differently and choose members differently and therefore our material and performances vary wildly. We are all friends in the comedy community.”