Sketch Comedy Troupes Deliver Lighthearted Performances


Photo by Daniel Firebanks

Doobie Ingenuity, one of two sketch comedy troupes that staged performances at the Cat in the Cream over Labor Day weekend, presented both live and pre-recorded sketches Friday night.

Russell Jaffe, Staff Writer

Sketch comedy is a rare treat at Oberlin, but last weekend not just one but two sketch comedy troupes performed at the Cat in the Cream. On Friday night, Oberlin’s newest sketch comedy group; the self-styled “most innovative sketch comedy group on campus,” Doobie Ingenuity, gave a spirited performance to a nearly full house. The performers showcased some of the best skits from the group’s previous shows, introducing the audience to their brand of humor and hoping to inspire other prospective comedians to audition.

In addition to the opening live performance elements of Friday night’s show, Doobie Ingenuity incorporated two video sketches that they had previously filmed and uploaded online. For these latter acts, the stage was cleared and the videos were projected for the entire audience to see. It was here, more than anywhere else, that Doobie Ingenuity was able to truly shine. With clever camerawork, Doobie Ingenuity created entirely original skits that could not have been possible in any other format. Those who missed the show can still catch some of these performances on Doobie Ingenuity’s YouTube and Facebook pages.

However, despite the creativity in some aspects of the show, there was a disappointing lack of originality in others. The reuse of jokes ran rampant throughout the entire show. For example, in each skit, there seemed to be a single joke that stood at the center of the performance. Unfortunately, this often ended up being that skit’s only joke, with all subsequent humor merely  repeating some minor variation of it. I enjoy references to old jokes as much as anyone else, but this seemed a bit excessive. As a result, I found Friday night’s show to be hit-or-miss.

Ultimately, the greatest strength of Doobie Ingenuity was the heart that they put into their performance. The performers’ hard work on each original piece was obvious, and their passion clearly stood out above all else. Passion is far more important than any shortcoming, and their casting call will undoubtedly bring in a rush of new talent and ideas to truly help them live up to their bold goals of innovation. I am quite optimistic for the future performances of Doobie Ingenuity.

Closing out the long weekend with a performance last Monday night was sketch comedy troupe Piscapo’s Arm, which also drew a sizeable crowd to the Cat in the Cream. Founded in 1998, this troupe is now old enough to be a college student in its own right, but age hasn’t slowed it down. When they introduced the show, the performers promised a “nice little breezy comedic romp,” and that was exactly what they delivered.

Their first sketch, though a predictable concept for a college sketch comedy troupe, was hilarious in execution — an obviously distressed neighbor trying to study despite the loud, strange sex noises that they are hearing through thin walls. The audience was in stitches.

The highlight of the night was “Eulogy Mad Libs,” which was about as funny as it sounds. The premise was simple: a clergyperson has to quickly write a sermon for someone that they didn’t know well, and their assistant helpfully offers them a Mad Libs book so that they can complete it. Although this sketch was another extended sex joke that could have gotten old fast, the acting kept the audience laughing throughout, and the payoff was spectacular. In case Piscapo’s Arm is intending to perform the sketch again, I won’t spoil the ending — I can only say that great things can be achieved through “the power of love and Mad Libs,” as the performers said themselves.

Piscapo’s Arm also incorporated novel elements into their performance, closing out the night with a song rather than a traditional sketch. The song, “The Mullet Man Chorus,” was incredibly silly, and was somehow made even sillier by how musically talented the Piscapo’s Arm company apparently is. One of the troupe members played guitar for this song, and every performer sang. The over-the-top enthusiasm that every performer brought to the song kept their concept fresh enough to stay funny to the last note. The audience was into it, too; at one point, a clapping rhythm started up, and soon after that, people were waving their cell phone lights as though it were a concert.

The next performances from Doobie Ingenuity and Piscapo’s Arm will certainly be ones to watch, especially given the new talent that both groups are actively recruiting. While the staple sketches and the acting are undoubtedly going to change, I am confident of two things: there will probably be more extended sex jokes in future shows, and if you’re looking for a lighthearted laugh, you will find it there.