The Oberlin Review

Sexual Innuendo Drives Piscapo’s Arm Debut

Sophie Kemp

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“We sometimes get offensive, so if we do, you can throw a Cat cookie at us — preferably at the mouth region,” a member of Piscapo’s Arm informed the audience gathered at the Cat in the Cream last Friday. No Cat cookies were thrown, but the troupe stayed true to its message and presented a show that perfectly satirized sexually-fueled tensions at Oberlin, for which the show was named.

Piscapo’s Arm’s Sexual Tension show was the first of the semester for Oberlin’s oldest sketch comedy group. The troupe moved seamlessly between goofy R.A.related innuendos, Cookie Monster condom jokes and discourse on the lengths we go to charm a lover, like sending nudes. At many points throughout the show, the subject matter was incredibly relatable to life at Oberlin. While most of us can’t claim to have been hit on at a fencing match — two of the members of Piscapo’s Arm are on the fencing team — the way the characters interacted echoed personal experience.

It’s easy to feel uncomfortable when talking about personal experiences, especially when it comes to sex, which is why sometimes the easiest way to talk about it is through comedy. Sketch comedy creates space to tell stories we’re often embarrassed to hear. While some of the scenes could have been cringeworthy and too sexually explicit, Piscapo’s Arm successfuly walked the fine line between offensive and comedic.

To achieve a sense of personal narrative within a sketch, the members of Piscapo’s Arm frequently write their sketches individually and workshop them together. Many of these sketches are never performed, making the writing process and workshop time crucial to success. This calculated aspect boded well for the most part during the performance; there were very few awkward pauses in the audience. It was genuinely funny. There were some moments that seemed a little too safe, however, such as the sketch about falling for an R.A. The jokes followed the typical first-year story arc: random charades, doing a room condition report incorrectly. These jokes felt a little obvious, but the sketch ended on a high note when College sophomore Liam McLean asked College junior Rachel Sacks to “go for a professor instead.”

The group draws on influences like Broad City creators Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, as well as older acts like Michael Palin’s Monty Python and Sam Speigelman’s Old Jews Telling Jokes. These carried out well into the sketches performed during the Labor Day show: awkward, a little gritty and, of course, sexually charged.

Sketch comedy à la Piscapo’s Arm is a pleasant diversion from the large improv scene on campus. The show had a very different feel from the comedy stylings of Oberlin’s three improv groups. The scenes had defined beginnings and ends; the jokes had clear arcs with predetermined punch lines. The longer writing process allowed for sketches to be more narrative. The troupe used aspects of improv when performing to keep things interesting. This variety of comedy on campus was refreshing. Despite the fact that sexual tensions ran high in the performance, the show provided a relaxing evening after a long day of studying.

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