Kid Business Struggles to Keep Up with ExCo Cast


Bryan Rubin

College sophomore Keenen Willis gives a bitingly witty theatrical performance at the Cat in the Cream alongside Kid Business, Oberlin’s only short-form improv troupe. Despite its established presence on campus, Kid Business depended on a handful of performers to keep its skits lively after the improv ExCo group stole the show.

Adam Chazin-Grey

Last Saturday night at the Cat in the Cream, members of the short-form improvisational comedy troupe Kid Business struggled to achieve the same level of humor as the up-and-coming talent of the 2014 improv ExCo class. Shortform improv requires audience input to guide the direction of each short improv game. Audience members seemed to revel in their ability to influence the direction of each improv game; each time the audience was given the green light, loud cries for different character roles or skit themes rang out from the crowd.

First up on the Cat stage was the ExCo class, which included a range of levels of talent. Without explicitly being told, no one could tell that these confident, witty students had only just begun interacting with each other on stage. Time seemed to fly by as skit after skit was met with increasingly louder applause from the crowd.

The ExCo students saved their best skit for last, displaying their quick thinking, witty humor and sexual confidence in the funniest segment of the night. Audience members had to fill in the blank: “Sex with me is like…” When describing how an orange is a metaphor for sex, one performer responded, “Sex with me is like an orange; when you squeeze me the right way, I will squirt on you.” The crowd roared in approval. Later, when comparing bowling to sex, another actor responded with a completely straight face, “Sex is like bowling; I never hit strikes.” At Oberlin, self-deprecating humor may be valued more than any other type of humor, and these improv apprentices did not disappoint.

With the final vigorous round of applause over for the 2014 improv ExCo performance, Kid Business, one of the most accessible and energetic troupes on campus, took the stage. Formerly known as OBehave, Kid Business was born of the 2009 improv ExCo class when a group of students decided to form the first shortform improv group on campus.

The ExCo’s exquisite display of creativity, intelligence and wry comedic instinct was difficult to follow. As Kid Business transitioned into its first segment, a noticeable lull washed over the crowd, which had been eagerly anticipating what they hoped would be an even more hysterical performance. The first skit seemed slightly forced and not quite up to Kid Business’s usual standard. The troupe did not lack in creativity or enthusiasm, but rather in subtle confidence.
 Short one cast member — College sophomore Adira Baum joined the cast last spring but was unable to perform due to illness — Kid Business gave a decent but not supremely memorable show. Despite brief waves of humorous moments, the various improvised skits ultimately blurred together, and the troupe appeared to be actively seeking audience approval. As they progressed through a series of improv games, only a handful of performers clicked with the tasks they were given.

College sophomore Keenen Willis gave an outstanding performance and maximized every moment on stage to display his exuberant spirit and multifaceted acting ability. Willis proved to be a chameleon, transforming himself into a wide variety of personalities. His dramatic expression and confident punchlines penetrated the gray cloud of less inspiring comedy that the troupe presented — mainly in comparison to last year’s fall ExCo and Kid Business show. College sophomore Joseph Kenshur gave a similarly exciting performance. His impressively quick wit provided much-needed relief from his fellow performers’ less exciting retorts. In a skit where actors were forced to revise their initial impulses, Kenshur’s lines were outrageously funny and provided the shocks of humor necessary to keep audience members engaged.

The evening was generally engrossing, despite Kid Business’s struggle to acquire comedic momentum. One can only hope that members of the ExCo’s impressive cast will audition to join Kid Business’s cast in the spring, when they will have more opportunities to perform.