Oberlin’s Live Talk Show “Good Talk” Leaves Audience in Stitches

“Good Talk,” Oberlin’s live talk show, made a triumphant return to the ’Sco Monday night to begin its third season, to the delight of comedy fans on campus.

At the start of Monday’s show, co-hosts Victoria Liebetrau, College sophomore, and College senior Owen Harrington proclaimed to a packed house, “‘Good Talk’ is back, and we’re a normal talk show now.”

Being a “normal talk show” constituted a series of skits involving a set of two bodyguards named Butchy and Muscles, a car salesman gone rogue, and the promotion of a new product — SC4RK or “Shitty Clothes 4 Rich Kids,” a device bearing a remarkable likeness to a fork with which you can quickly shred your designer clothes.

According to Harrington, the writing process for “Good Talk” begins during the fall semester, with the sporadic throwing around of ideas. Once the spring semester begins, the writing gets more concrete, and the bi-weekly schedule becomes more serious. Right now, in addition to its two hosts, the show has four writers — Harrington, College junior Ben Silverman, College sophomore Olive Sherman, and College first-year Mary Brody. The show stars two actors, College first-year Matteo Debole and College junior Eliana Zuckerman, and is produced by College junior Lara Edwards.

“The week leading up to the show is full of last-minute details, bookings, and mishaps,” Edwards wrote in an email to the Review. “Yet, every time we are able to come through that Monday night with amazing segments and a cohesive show. Personally, I thrive in the considerable chaos of the Good Talk process and the excitement of the days leading up to a taping.”

Harrington, a long-time member of the “Good Talk” team, said he became a host through a series of happy accidents — most recently that the intended host went abroad — and his co-host, Liebetrau, made her first run on the show this semester.

“I actually hadn’t ever seen an episode of it before [Monday night],” Liebetrau wrote in an email to the Review.

According to Harrington, the show this year has moved in a different direction from last year’s season. It had become, in his opinion, a little too “self-referential” and “confrontational.” For example, a segment called “The Zone” involved an audience member’s name being pulled from a hat, and when that person came to the stage to collect their prize, the prize turned out to be sitting on a stool at the back of the stage ringed with chicken wire (The Zone) for the remainder of the show. In reference to this season, Harrington laughed, “I’m trying to make people not scared.”

In the spirit of President’s Day, the hosts called up club presidents from the audience to compete and determine the “best president.” Members of OCDems, OSnow, YeoPress, and the OC Acrobats dueled it out on stage in challenges such as miming the club activity and pairing the club’s vice president with its president. The OCDems won and took home prizes of their choice — an apple and a plastic candle.

Another highlight was some footage unearthed by Doris Kearns Goodtime — the “Good Talk” marijuana enthusiast and historian — that made a convincing case for JFK’s last speech having been an adamant endorsement of recreational drug decriminalization.

“It’s not just I who love[s] opiates, it is the American people who love opiates, and hallucinogens, and the other thing,” proclaimed “JFK” in the dubbed speech. “We do not love these drugs because they are easy. We love them because they are hard.”

From there, the hosts introduced an educational segment, GoodTEDx, wherein Sherman presented her talk, “Reading Response Week 11: Persepolis,” a charming homework assignment-based presentation. The segment included slides of the coffee shop where she had her Skidmore college interview, the kid who bullied her for her middle-school presentation on Persepolis, and Sherman alongside her best friend in their 4th grade Halloween costumes as Juno MacGuff and Bleecker — all, of course, in service of the question of Western influence in the Persepolis narrative.

One of the evening’s funniest moments was a short performance of “Hancock,” a knock-off of Hamilton performed by the “Hamilton off-Broadway cast.” The performance featured lines like, “The only parties I like are political parties,” and, when Washington beat Hancock out for the role of President, “You’re still the President in my heart. Wanna get Dunkin?” These were, of course, punctuated by short raps with less-than-perfect rhythm.

In two weeks, things will ramp up — Harrington promises a riff on daytime television and a cooking show segment, as well as a much-awaited interview with President Ambar.

“Good Talk” will also be hosting open mics after each of their shows, in which people can do stand-up, tell stories, do some improv, or just perform whatever they’d like. They encourage people to stay for these post-show segments, buy some drinks, and enjoy themselves.

In Liebetrau’s words, “There’s something energizing about having an audience full of pals.”