Hopkins sketch comedy group bursts into the Baltimore scene

By KANAK GUPTA | February 7, 2019

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COURTESY OF KANAK GUPTA Richard Dreyfuss performed at the BIG theatre stage - six of the eight members are pictured here

As the Richard Dreyfuss Performance Collective took the Baltimore Improv Group (BIG) theater stage on Thursday, Jan. 31 they discovered that they were Banksy and hilarity ensued.

The sketch comedy group entered the Baltimore comedy scene in July 2018 and has since given many performances, including one at the NYC Sketch Festival. It has grown from the drunken idea of its founding members Brandon Block and Dubray Kinney into an eight person collective. The members — Block, Kinney, Freddie McCall, Joshan Bajaj, Tatiana Ford, Morris Kraicer, Chara Bauer and William Bernardoni — all happen to be Hopkins students or alumnae, many of whom were part of comedy groups on campus before joining (the unaffiliated) Richard Dreyfuss. McCall talked about the origins of the name in an interview with The News-Letter

“Richard Dreyfuss was chosen completely at random; it’s just funny,” McCall said.

On Thursday evening the group put on its sixth show where members showcased seven live sketches and a video short. After determining that they were all Banksy, an excited Ford struggled to choose between her wigs as she dressed for a first date in a sketch titled “Wigs.” The five wigs she proceeded to put on brought out her different personalities — Rosa was a kinky silver blonde; Cassandra, an attention-seeking turquoise; Eve, a short black wig that just wanted to stay home in pyjamas; Dawn Dawn was orange-red and ready for marriage; and Ingrid was a white Sia wig who couldn’t wait to be obsessed with Ford’s date.

The sketch, my favorite one of the night, left the audience in stitches as the wigs fought between themselves and tried to convince Ford to pick them (or, in Eve’s case, to not go as she tried to end the “never-ending cycle of you getting to know someone, them eventually stopping texting you and them watching your Snapchat story every day until you die.”) The wigs delivered constant zingers that not only served to get laughs but also helped to define each character.

Ingrid, played by McCall, was a little cuckoo and spoke up from time to time to say the most unexpected things and also maintained a strange affinity for teeth. It began with her first dialogue, “Wear me. I’m Wildcard Wig, I’m a dentist,” and culminated in a resounding “YOU need to give that man a hello he will NEVER! Forget! Give him fire. Give him hysteria. Give him emotion. And there is nothing like a toss of the tresses. To make your emotional outburst SHINE like a crest whitening strip. HONEY. You can toss me BACK. Shake me from Side to Side. All the while SCREAMING I. WANT. TO. GIVE. YOU. A ROOT CANAAAAAAAAL!”

Kraicer stole the show as Rosa, the overly sexual wig, as he unblinkingly delivered lines like, “What’s a little eroticism between two strangers?” and “How else are we gonna get to first base?” while also exclaiming her need for “mechanical, degrading, pulling-gravel-from-my-knees sex.” Rosa and Ford returned for “Wigs II” a few sketches later, at Ford’s date, where Rosa met Tommy’s wig Maurice, a singer/songwriter. While Ford and Tommy struggled to find any chemistry, their wigs passionately attached themselves to each other, leaving their owners awkwardly stuck.

Taking a departure from this realism, the group performed a fantasy sketch called “Bones,” which took place in Master Meniscus’ medieval alchemy laboratory. In a last ditch attempt to save the dying king, and after an angry dance by his apprentice Petri (played by Kraicer), Meniscus (played by McCall) agreed to send Petri to the Bone Zone. After the king’s advisor, Tortussis, played comically by Bauer, found that Meniscus “sent a 12 year old, barely old enough to impregnate a second wife, into the Bone Zone,” she revealed that he was the heir to the throne. When Petri returned as a skeleton, the king, after the power of Petri’s emotional dance cured him, declared him the Skeleton Prince and ordered a redecoration of the palace.

The group performed a few more sketches in the hour-long show, including one about a drug deal gone wrong because of a game of jinx and a self-discovery class that literally changed the people in it. They also played a short video in which people discussed how they were ready for what needed to be done but then never ended up doing what needed to be done. 

The variety of sketches made the show entertaining, lighthearted and earnest. Sophomore Emmeline Roth noted that the show was a fun and enjoyable time. 

“[The show] was a joyful event, as Richard Dreyfuss always is,” she said. 

Graduate student Raph Santore liked that the show was also full of dancing. Here’s hoping that the still quite nascent group continues to grow and that they find a place in the burgeoning Baltimore comedy scene.

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