Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
December 11, 2023

In Throat Culture's latest, the stage is as dirty as the jokes

By NATALIE BERKMAN | September 19, 2009

After Throat Culture, Hopkins' only sketch comedy group, finished their series of comedy sketches on Saturday night, the stage of the Arellano Theater had been coated with flour, pretzels, marshmallows and nearly solidified with water.

What began with an innocent dropped sandwich turned into a smattering of props that dominated the stage. Indeed, the dirtier the stage became, the more laughs the group received. This is a group that obviously knows how to have fun. In fact, cleaning the stage for them after the performance could have evolved into yet another of their comedy sketches, all of which were simple parodies of everyday life.

To introduce the show, senior Rich Zheng demonstrated how a cell phone can interrupt a performance with an incredibly melodramatic phone call about his mother being murdered by Native Americans.

This was interrupted by Dave Santare, also a senior, who claimed that the cell phone sketch was racist. Dace was, in turn, interrupted by senior Eric Levitz, who dropped a sandwich and threw food all over the "splash rows." So, no cell phones, no loud protestations or taking offense to the sketches during the show and no food. Got it.

The sketches ranged from parodies of life at Hopkins, including a video about freshmen boys, frat parties and an evil professor, to jokes about fake medical conditions: being an attention whore, being "hooked on phonics" and having variously disproportionate body parts, as evidenced by the knight "Sir Worthingballs."

The first real sketch centered on the attention whore, portrayed by junior Andrew Yip. He was on a date with Toni Del Sorbo, a senior, when the waitress (senior Erica Bauman) revealed in a dramatic monologue that she too was an attention whore.

Though someone in the audience claimed they did the same sketch last year, that didn't stop the audience from laughing at the protagonist's sparkly hat and the ridiculous dialogue.

After the attention whore, a group of Russians (Levitz, sophomore Luke Mayhew and sophomore Mike Zaccardo) sold balloons to an unsuspecting father and daughter (senior Mike Wills and sophomore Emily Sucher) and then popped the balloons, forcing Wills and Sucher to buy more.

This skit was repeated with water balloons and then again with a police officer, junior Mac Schwerin. At this point, the poor stage became thoroughly flooded.In a crazed sketch about Hopkins life, a student (sophomore Adam Merrit) went to his Biochemistry professor (Levitz) and accused him of teaching students to build a laser to blow up the sun. The professor, in as awkward a manner as possible, revealed that he was Dr. Apocalypse and offered the position of T. A. Terror to the student - who wholeheartedly accepted.

In a slightly more risqué sketch, two couples played "Never Have I Ever" while surrounded by cocaine. This cocaine - flour, in actuality - became the centerpiece of the sketch; characters picked it up with a shovel, smothered their faces in it, and then used a vacuum to clean up the rest; needless to say, the attempt failed miserably.

Similarly, when a game of "Taboo" went wrong, a boss became overly competitive, broke a stool and threw pretzels on the floor. Once again, as the floor filled with food, the crowd loved the comedy.

The two clear favorites of the night were the skits involving Worthingballs and the one featuring pirates. In the former, a British woman (Sucher) was entranced by the oddly proportioned Sir Worthingballs (Senior Gerrard Taylor).

From the name, one can guess Worthingball's condition. However, when the woman revealed that she, too, had a rare condition - thirteen vaginas - Worthingballs claimed that her condition was too bizarre for him to consider marriage after all.

In the pirate skit, a captain of a ship (Wills) was in love with a mermaid (Schwerin), who was actually just a pirate in a potato sack. The climax - a kiss after which the captain learned the truth and the fact that the mermaid imposter was in love with him - solicited the biggest response of the night.

Many misconceptions about Hopkins' performing arts groups exist. While Throat Culture is a part of the Barnstormers group, the two are still very different. Throat Culture uses skits that are all written, performed and directed by the members of this small but energetic group of 15 undergraduates.

At their bi-weekly meetings, they pitch ideas and present skits that they have written and work them out as a group. Once everyone has agreed on a scene, they begin to rehearse it. As demonstrated, the dirtier the sketch, the bigger the audience response - caking the stage and having two guys kiss seems to appeal to the typical Hopkins undergrad.

However, behind this type of humor, every skit had some sort of intelligent aspect to it, proving that instead of being a university where "fun goes to die," Hopkins is an environment in which students can incorporate their lives and education into their comedy and share it with their classmates. We work hard, but as Throat Culture has showed the student body, we can laugh at ourselves, too.

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