It was certainly a “snicker pit” in McLaren last Thursday evening. The performers of Awkward Silence toyed with the idea of it being a “chuckle hut” or even a “chuckle factory,” and the rows of students did not seem to mind either. Whether a hut or a factory, McLaren was full of laughs at the expense of the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB). Famous for their improvisation comedy skits, the group, as well as the University’s Awkward Silence, performed for their fans.
Awkward Silence played many games, which have proven to become their most popular, including Freeze the Line, Dating Game and Sex is Like. The audience was off to a slow start but started rumbling with laughter when Laura Waldron was panicking inside Chuck E. Cheese because she was “Trapped in a ball pen! So many germs!” Drawing from elements of pop culture was Eddie Harrison, who played Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino from “Jersey Shore” in a dating game.
When asked who his role model was as a child, he replied, “I looked up to me. I wanted to be best friends with me, and I was.” But it wasn’t until the Sex is Like game that the hoots of laughter and victorious fists were thrust into the air. The most notable analogy came from Lisa Nelson with, “Sex is like spam. I don’t really know what it is, but I know I want it with (a) Hawaiian.”
Although the essential elements of improvisation comedy lie in the energy of the moment, there are two distinct types of performance. Awkward Silence favors skits that rely on audience involvement. However, the UCB comedians are trained in long-form improvisation, which involves the audience to start them off with ideas for scenes that last for roughly half an hour.
One member of UCB, Joe Wengert, held a workshop for Awkward Silence prior to the show. Wengert applauded them for their strength as a team and commitment to improving themselves, but said there is still more to learn. He said, “When short improv is all you do, long form is a whole new language. From there, everything is an improvement. It is all about finding one funny idea and exploiting it. We try to teach them how to find it.”
Amber Dennis, co-captain of Awkward Silence, found the workshop helpful but does not want to introduce long-form improv to the Awkward Silence stage yet. “We want to practice and teach ourselves how to do it first because it’s really complicated,” she said.
Besides learning a new type of comedy, Awkward Silence is hoping to do battle. “We really want to get teams from other schools around the area here and compete,” Amber Dennis said. Comedic skirmishes are expected to commence in the spring semester.
Auditions were held this past Sunday for two new comics to join the team. The first Awkward Silence show is planned for late September. The group is not an official USF club so make sure to keep an eye out for the fliers they’ll be handing out for the next “chuckle hut” date.