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All New, All Original Sketch Comedy!

The following has been yoinked from The Justice. Friday night's review was written by Kendra Fortmeyer, and Saturday night's review was written by Joshua Frankel. It was published on December 6, 2005.

  Friday: Day 1

Audience members with a keen appreciation for jokes about George W. Bush, sex, the Crocodile Hunter and child abuse were in for a real treat when Boris' Kitchen's Sixth Annual Sketch Comedy Festival opened on Friday. The show was the first in a two-night showcase of comedic talent, featuring groups from Yale, Wesleyan, The University of Chicago, Brown and Brandeis, as well as the professional comedy troupe Olde English. The wide range of humor, from pop culture references to political satire to honest-to-goodness wit, had audience members chuckling through some sketches and roaring with laughter through others. With such a winning conglomeration of talent, the night was a side-splitting success.

Yale comedy group Fifth Humor got the show off to a successful start as the opening group of the night. The troupe more than earned its laughs with witty portrayals of French 101 students and elementary school pageants run by abusive teachers, skillfully catering to the '80s-nostalgic audience with a pop culture parody of Full House. They were followed by Lunchbox from Wesleyan. Lunchbox was slightly less successful; half sketches played on the same kind of abusive parent ploy that had already been exploited by Fifth Humor. Luckily, though, a surprise appearance by Benjamin Franklin saved Lunchbox from the danger of redundancy. Brown's Out of Bounds was likewise not as strong, relying on an endless barrage of sex jokes to carry the show. Though the audience enjoyed many of Out of Bounds' sketches, the troupe's dubbed spoof of Disney's Little Mermaid singing "I wish I had a vagina" seemed crude and heavy-handed, and the Soviet Writing Fellows sketch was potentially offensive.

The surprising gem of the show was the performance by the University of Chicago's Off Off Campus. The troupe veered away from the standard fare of sex jokes and celebrity impersonations into a more political vent, pleasing the ultra-PC Brandeisian audience with sketches about the new "Bromosexuality" (romance between bros) and Osama bin Laden on the Facebook. The jokes were clearly and superbly delivered; even the transitions between skits were done in a certain style that made Off Off Campus a hard act to follow. Professional troupe Olde English and the on-campus favorite Boris' Kitchen had difficulty competing with Off Off Campus' clear talent, though Olde English's novel Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style sketch and hilarious astronaut sketch racked up the laughs. Of course, the finale of the show was Brandeis' own Boris' Kitchen. The larger Brandeis troupe had a harder time dominating the stage after some of the truly humorous preceding acts, but they held their own, garnering the most laughs with a spoofy Masterpiece Theatre-style "history of drunk dialing" and the Jerry Springer-based "Mother Goose Show."

Despite the uneven array of talent and the sometimes repetitive comedic themes, the opening night of Boris' Kitchen's Sixth Annual Sketch Comedy Festival was a gut-busting success, moving audience members to laughter and tears, as well as to the ticket booth to purchase tickets for the next night's show.

-Kendra Fortmeyer



Saturday: Day 2

The Sketch Comedy Festival's second night found an overloaded crowd enjoying many worthy, hilarious jests-perhaps too many. The show carried on for nearly four hours, lasting until nearly midnight and causing many in the audience to fall asleep once the clamorous laughter died away.

The Skits-O-Phrenics began the night with fantastic work. The Cornell University group used nostalgia for the '90s: two friends playing a video game. Their "Speech Writer" skit emulated the famed arcade game Street Fighter, right down to including actual music from the game, which many in the audience probably hadn't heard since the game's heyday in 1994. Two actors brilliantly portrayed fighters Ryu and Chun Li with their exaggerated breathing, and a third crew member staged a familiar projectile move from the game. The sketch proved to be hilarious, and it began the show well.

Vassar College's No Offense had a tough act to follow, but did so admirably. The sketch included a clever parody of the European Union, replete with pathetic, bickering figures. The German representative bellowed relentlessly; the Romanians sent a vampire who promptly put her German counterpart to sleep. The other nations, characteristic of how such bodies can ignore serious crimes, pretended not to notice.

Slow Children at Play, hailing from Boston University, brought a sketch pertaining to Christmas just in time for the holidays. Here, a couple showed a mysterious fear of leaving their child in the living room, awaiting Santa. After all, insisted the mother, "We have never seen this man." Indeed, Santa achieved a vile hat trick, executing the hapless family based on his "naughty list."

Over an hour had passed by intermission. Many appeared to be settling to sleep in their seats, indicating the show was already running too long.

Syracuse's Penguins Without Pants managed to wake up a handful of people. They performed a sketch about a restaurant that was pleasing at first, depicting a dining couple that communicated through a choral group of the restaurant's employees. During their meal, the guy broke up with the girl and she tried to accept a non-existent proposal for marriage with the help of the restaurant team racing to the table in time to jocularly sing the break-up theme. An elaborate method of dealing with communication problems, it was funny to listen to, although somewhat repetitive after the fourth ballad.

Boris' Kitchen finally arrived at a point when the audience seemed largely worn out. Their first sketch was excellent-advertising "Governmint" gum intended to help enhance white lies with the savvy of habitually dishonest politicians. In this vein, a George W. Bush impersonator emerged, to present his case for Governmint gum.

In their last act, which was also hysterical, a troop of Girl Scouts was confronted by "Gay Scouts." After a derisive verbal exchange, in which the girls scoffed at the "triple nut bars" sold by their counterparts, a climactic catfight ensued. One girl, in the rush of combat, broke the nail of her gay opponent, who was forced to retreat offstage.

This sketch offered a notable contrast in gay humor. Boris' Kitchen stressed the relatively innocent peddling of nut bars, and featured a showdown catfight match. They avoided trivializing disease, as Cleanest River in America did earlier. In fact, Cleanest River blundered in two ways-joking about cancer and the spectrum of sexually transmitted diseases at the same time. The audience responded accordingly, applauding the combat between girls and gays during the Boris' Kitchen sketch, while protesting against Cleanest River with silence when it reduced two of humanity's greatest threats to low-brow quips.

The duration of the show, which began at 8 p.m. and lasted until nearly 12:00 a.m., gnawed at the splendor of many of the sketches. If Boris' Kitchen plans a seventh comedy festival, it would do well to cut the number of skits in half. The length of this show caused the audience to applaud loudly as much for the show's end as for its fine quality. When it comes to comedy, less is more.

-Joshua Frankel