By: Rachael Burke ’14
This past Friday night, The Moveable Joints!, Trinity’s improvisational comedy group, hosted an event called “UCB TourCo: Trinity College Style,” featuring an improv troupe from the Upright Citizens Brigade touring company. The Washington Room brimmed with members of the Trinity community, as well as others from the greater community, including the Sea Tea Improv Connecticut comedy group.
The Joints! kicked off the show by free-styling scenes based on a variety of “Urban Dictionary” definitions for the audience suggested word “Slinky.” The inventive Urban Dictionary game, a brainchild of co-president Anson McCook ‘12, revealed one particularly notable definition for Slinky “[A person] who will bring a smile to your face if they get pushed down the stairs.” The Joints!, made up of co-presidents McCook and Tamar Stevens ‘12, Liam Doran ‘14, and newbies John Wilsterman ‘12, and Marin Abernethy ‘14, acted out various scenes based on the “Slinky” definitions. They may be a small troupe, but their group dynamic has become increasingly cohesive with each performance this semester.
The Upright Citizens Brigade players were up next, featuring dynamic comedians Chelsea Clarke, Aaron Jackson, Shannon O’Neill and Jim Santangeli. The group began with an audience interaction bit, gathering information about various aspects of Trinity, such as campus social life, recent events, and other goings on at Trinity. This provided material to inspire their scenes for throughout the night, and audiences were delighted to see scenes based on Trinity themes.
Following the question and answer period with the audience, Scotty Eckenthal ’12 played a significant role in the UCB show. UCBer Shannon O’Neill interviewed Eckenthal, who was an absolute natural on stage, and portions of his life were then immortalized in short improvisational skits for the remainder of the night. Some of these skits were based off of anecdotes Eckenthal divulged about his three suitemates, Karl Sandrich ‘12, Kyle Beek ‘12, and Jon Chu ‘12. The interview format as inspiration for the set was a terrific improvisational technique for the UCB group to utilize, because the receptive crowd felt as if they were in on the joke, as his interview was done in front of the live audience.
A lot of the material performed by the UCB TourCo was debatably too raunchy for the Tripod’s standards, so I will recount some more G-rated standout scenes that contributed to the enjoyable set. For instance, the first scene, inspired by Eckenthal’s life, of course, featured two boys (Clarke and Jackson) undercover as girls at Mount Holycross College, based on Eckenthal’s real life sister who attends Mount Holyoke in Massachusetts. One major theme of the scenes at the improv show involved Eckenthal’s description of one of his suitemates, Chu. According to Scotty, Jon Chu tends to say quite colorful comments among friends, who have fondly created a secret website dedicated to him and his eccentric quotes. Eckenthal quoted a number of examples, such as “Hey, who keeps eating all of our toilet paper?” The UCB TourCo heard Eckenthal’s aforementioned Chu anecdote and rolled with it, acting out some of his quotes, and even having one scene where they elaborated on other things that Chu might say. In this scene, one of the more PG-rated highlights for me of the set, “Jon,” played by Shannon O’Neill, found the Chu blog. He grew angry, and told his roommates off, but of course by using characteristic odd comments all the while. Between calling them “cabinet faces” or “you look like a platypus giving birth,” they continued to type on the website and Later, Chu’s friends confessed to him about a Chu franchise, and when he offered a strange home remedy they put it on the Chu crafts website. One memorable zinger was when O’Neill (as Chu) asked her friends after a silence, “Hey, you guys ever hit a bird for fun?” This particular scene featured a number of unexpected turns, as improvisational comedy always does, but was one of the scenes of the night that especially showcased the TourCo’s incredible creativity.
The third scene, based on Chu’s real life toilet paper comment featured a woman (played by Chelsea Clarke) who went to the bathroom on a date, only to eat all of the toilet paper in the bathroom. Her eating habits escalated to other objects, and to the delight of the audience, we saw the character many times throughout the night in various situations. Clarke definitely captured a fan favorite character of the night. At one point toward the end of their set, toilet paper girl’s friends staged an intervention for her, during which she swallowed an iPhone complete with Siri.
As a whole, “UCB TourCo: Trinity College Style” was a very refreshing event for Trinity. Dillard Taylor ‘12 reflected on the event, saying, “It’s always been a great event, some good spice, something we don’t get here very often. The Washington Room was pretty much full; it shows how much people liked it. And there were so many other events last night, so it just shows how great the event is.” From Josh Blue’s performance earlier this semester to Maria Falzone’s annual performance recently to the UCB performance this past Friday, the school has done a tremendous job bringing comedians to Trinity for Washington Room events. The crowds have always been very receptive, and the events have been consistently well attended. The UCB TourCo visit has been a once-a-year show for Trinity, but the Moveable Joints! want to host them again this year, so we will all definitely cross our fingers in hopes of their return.
For more Joints! online action, like “The Moveable Joints” on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @MoveableJoints. For more UCB information, check out their Twitter @UCBTheatreNY, or their website <http://newyork.ucbtheatre.com/>.