Throat Culture puts on whirlwind 24-hour show

By RUDY MALCOM | April 4, 2019

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Courtesy of Throat Culture Members of Throat Culture perform in the 24-hour show on Saturday.

Throat Culture, the only sketch comedy troupe on campus, performed their 24-hour glow show in Arellano Theater on Saturday night, offering audience members not only humor and talent, but also free candy and glow sticks.

Based on ideas suggested through Facebook, and in the style of Saturday Night Live, Throat Culture members wrote, directed and memorized sketches in under 24 hours. They undertake this ambitious practice once a semester.

Sophomore Ben Straus, who is a member of Throat Culture, believes that 24-hour shows are special because of their spontaneity.

Fellow member and senior Rachel Underweiser echoed Straus’ sentiments, citing senior Joshan Bajaj’s going off script during a sketch.

“24-hours shows are always so different from the day-of rehearsals. You need to read the audience and the flow of the sketch to make in-the-moment decisions. Joshan flipped over a couch for effect in the moment because his comedic instincts took over. I think that is what makes 24 hour shows so magical and funny; we are very much thinking and acting on our toes,” she said. “I think it’s so great how with such little time we are able to create so much — characters, costumes, staging — while still taking risks and exploring possibilities.”

I know I wouldn’t be doing each sketch justice if I tried to write about all of them, so I’ve decided against that. Jacques Lacan and other Freudian critics would’ve had a field day with my favorite sketch, “I Feel Naked Without Literature,” which evoked the relationship between sex and text. (That’s right, I took a psychoanalysis course once.)

In the sketch, junior Emma Shannon and freshman Carolina Rodriguez Steube’s characters are celebrating their first anniversary. But Shannon thinks that things are moving too slowly; when she reaches from across the table to hold Rodriguez Steube’s hand, Rodriguez Steube clutches a copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Shannon grabs the book and delivers a litany of sexual innuendos with poise.

“With your consent, I think it’s time to finger to the next chapter,” she said. 

When Rodriguez Steube says she feels exposed, Shannon tells her it’s “because we’re past the exposition, my love.” The sketch ends with Shannon hinting that the next metaphorical pages contain a climax.

Another sketch I enjoyed featured Straus reading sophomore Aidan Smith’s fortune in a crystal ball. Despite telling Smith he sees a lucrative career and happy family in his future, Straus screams, gets up and pushes over a plant on stage.

Smith worries if his future holds disaster which Straus is concealing from him, but Straus attributes his episode to allergies. Both deliver evocative performances. Eventually, Straus reveals that Smith is going to die; he kills him by throwing the ball at him. Underweiser’s demands that Straus read her fortune amid all the hullabaloo provided comic relief. The sketch ends with Straus discovering a knife. 

The show’s shortest sketch, “Exhausted and Gay: A Memoir,” featured Shannon yawning on a couch while reading a book with a rainbow cover.

I also enjoyed when, in a different sketch, senior Skylar Freyman shows the audience that she’s been putting several Oreos’ worth of sweet crème filling between two chocolate wafers. 

Straus discussed the challenges of putting on the 24-hour show.

“Since we’ve only rehearsed them a few times, we are still ‘exploring’ our characters. Sometimes this makes for funny jokes that hit, and other times not so much. But in this show I felt that almost all the sketches hit,” he said.

Freshman Orlando Espinoza said that attending the show deepened his appreciation of performing arts groups.

“Although not the most supported clubs at Hopkins, Throat Culture and other arts clubs are a helpful way to relieve stress and brighten your day,” he said. “The glow show last night helped me realize that.”

Throat Culture’s Technical Director Reid Bradshaw, a sophomore, commented on the unique beauty of Throat Culture.

“I absolutely love being a part of Throat Culture. Sometimes theater productions can get bogged down in stress, emotional exhaustion, personal and collective frustration,” he wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “Throat Culture reminds me and reminds everybody that we’re doing theater because we want to have fun. The members are hilarious and remarkably clever, and they never dismiss an idea as too crazy. It’s like all the best parts of theater rolled together. We’re just here to make people laugh and have a good time.”

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