At the end of the show, with the members of both Throat Culture and The Buttered Niblets lying “dead” on the ground and just one member left standing and muttering “I’m just gonna go backstage now...,” I felt even more confused than I was at the start.
“Business Merger” was a collaboration between two of the University’s leading comedy groups: Throat Culture — the self-proclaimed “BEST and only sketch comedy group [at Hopkins]” and The Buttered Niblets, who describe themselves as striving to put on “[the] Finest Quality Imp[r]ovised Comedy.”
The show alternated between sketch comedy and improv and saw each group showcasing their comedic strengths not only in their own discipline but also in the other’s.
While some of the improvisation games featured members of Throat Culture, many of the sketches featured members of the Buttered Niblets. Some of the sketches were even performed solely by the Buttered Niblets.
The running joke throughout the show was that Throat Culture thought they were better at improv than the Buttered Niblets were at sketch comedy and vice versa. This is what led to the ultimate end-of-show duel between the two groups.
The show was emceed by freshman Keelin Reilly (a member of The Buttered Niblets), whose commentary was undoubtedly one of the funniest parts of the whole show.
It all began with a few of the head members of the groups discussing how they were going to spend the $600 they had been given by the school. Side-note: Seriously though, how? That alone is impressive.
They concluded that after props and costumes, of which there were a LOT throughout the show, they were left with 20 bucks.
Thus began the search for an emcee to which Keelin nonchalantly said, “I mean... I was gonna go rush, but... 20 bucks is 20 bucks.” Truer words have never been spoken.
So instead of spending most of the night at AEPi, which he joked was his other option for the night, Reilly acted as our hilariously deadpan, straight-faced guide between sketches and improv games.
Often sharing the audience’s (or at least my) confusion at others performing purposefully and laughably bad ventriloquism, Reilly provided some sort of fluidity throughout the show, which, by nature of being a combination of sketches and improv, had the potential to feel quite stilted.
In general, the improv games were better executed than the sketches. I couldn’t really find fault in the improv — the performers made extremely clever jokes, especially considering that they were coming up with them on the spot.
A definite highlight was a game in which there were five performers on stage that had each been given the name of a radio talk show from a member of the audience.
The shows ranged from “I found a dinosaur in the backyard” to “Jen and Jack’s fuck hour,” where unfortunately Jack was not present and eventually even Jen wasn’t either, and the performer changed voices from that of Jen to her younger daughter, who had to take over the show.
With the sketch comedy, a few performances really stood out. Personally, a few of the jokes fell flat for me, and I don’t think that’s just because of the difference in British versus American humor.
I’m also pretty hard to offend so that was not the reason why, but I personally couldn’t understand why a joke about 9/11 was necessary after a sketch which had been entirely based on the way in which they had come up with ideas for the sketch. It was a complete non sequitur and seemed like a bit of a cheap joke. Although perhaps that was the point?
Aside from that and a few questionably bad and not completely relevant English accents, the sketches were well executed and funny. There was a running theme throughout the sketches of playground bullying taken to new heights with children and, eventually, a teacher being put in a box of shame for the “crimes.”
The funniest of these was the teacher’s punishment for trying to be cool and offering to sell the kids drugs. This was accompanied by lots of “Don’t do drugs,” along with the three official school yard board members cloaked in black deciding their verdict.
The highlight of the sketches, however, was a tie between three women explaining female masturbation to high school students (the audience) in Alabama which ended with the explanation that sex is like baseball for Americans.
This led into a discussion of what sex analogies each country uses. The clear highlight for me was the UK — “Sex is like tea: better in third world countries that we invaded.”