By Lacey Colby
Each fall semester, Alpha Psi Omega produces a student-written sketch comedy show, but be careful not to group these all together as the same production. Though the directors, senior Bobbie Parker and junior Ben Mendelson, have been in some of the past productions, they’ve worked to make it clear that No Laughing Matter: Really Funny $#!+, like all sketch comedy, is original and unique.
Parker and Mendelson chose to deviate from the familiar title Live with Alpha Psi… It’s Saturday Night of the past few shows. Instead, No Laughing Matter was given the new name to create its own identity, according to Mendelson.
“We really wanted to put an emphasis on the originality of the show,” Parker said. “If something happened before you were a freshman, people just assume it’s a tradition. This is something that only started a few years ago, and I wanted to emphasize that it’s not something that we’re doing out of tradition. It’s something that we’re doing because we wanted to do it.”
As the directors and many of the cast members noted, any sketch comedy show will be different from others. This one, though, has some specific distinctions that make it stand out from past productions.
Unlike past shows, No Laughing Matter has no host. Instead, three members of the faculty, professor Harry Naar and Deans Ira Mayo and Anthony Campbell, make guest appearances. Naar even performs by himself in one sketch, which plays on his job as an art professor.
The production appears more cohesive than some past sketch comedy shows. Though not all sketches relate to each other, certain themes, characters and scenes make multiple appearances.
The variety of comedy, in both the sketches and the cast, is one of the show’s best features. Audience members can expect to see everything from dry sarcasm to slapstick humor, and the topics of the sketches vary as well.
Both directors agree that the cast didn’t “pull punches” when writing. One particularly funny sketch, “Jewish Mother GPS” written by sophomore Kelcie Kosberg, pokes fun at the stereotype, and a Jerry Springer spoof mocks popular obsession with the Internet.
Jerry Springer is the only celebrity who makes his way into any of the sketches, though. The cast avoided the use of celebrity and famous character references and cameos as much as possible. Past references included Disney princesses, celebrity couples and well-known reporters.
“Everything in the show is original,” senior Steve Sachs said. “I think that marks a new direction for the show because in previous years, we’ve relied a lot on outside references to enhance the show.”
Contributing to the originality, some of the writing came from improvisation during rehearsals. Improv games that the cast played involved prompts such as phrases, some of which actually developed into sketches. In this way, all of the cast members have contributed to more than just the acting.
Both Sachs and senior Rose Lynn said that Parker and Mendelson allow the cast plenty of freedom to collaborate with them on issues. In rehearsals, everyone shared ideas and suggestions openly.
“They always say that this whole cast are directors,” Lynn said. “They really take our opinions into consideration.”
The cast members are happy to work with each other and are proud of the show that audiences can see this Saturday night.
“I think it’s going to really bring the house down,” Mendelson said.
No Laughing Matter will be performed on Saturday, Dec. 12, at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. in the Spitz Theater. Tickets will be $5.