A clandestine meeting was negotiated between daze and Cornell’s premier sketch comedy troupe, the Skits-O-Phrenics, in their Subterranean Comedic Laboratory (British pronunciation, these people are no amateurs) somewhere under the Plantations. The interview took place through a half-silvered mirror, and with a speaker phone so daze could not positively identify who had said what. Consequently, whenever a new person began talking, we denoted it by putting it in its own set of apostrophes. Here is the result:
daze: First things first, does anyone want to give a brief history of the group?
Phrenics: “Eleven years ago Eric Garcia, who founded the group, was in the Whistling Shrimp, and he decided he didn’t want to do improv anymore and that he wanted to do sketch …” “Sketch comedy, not drawing” “Right, sketch comedy. So he broke off with the Shrimp and formed the Skits-O-Phrenics. We got the name basically by him standing on a table in the middle of his frat asking, ‘What should the name of my comedy group be?’ And the best one that came up at the time was the Skits-O-Phrenics.” “That’s a clever name.”
daze: So what has happened to your alumni? Do they ever come back to perform with you?
Phrenics: “Eric has gotten pretty famous because he wrote Matchstick Men, which is a movie now, and the Anonymous Rex series, which is going to be a miniseries on Sci Fi soon.” “We just had our 10th anniversary show last Fall, which was awesome, and we had a lot of alumni doing sketch in New York City.”
daze: How often do you recruit?
Phrenics: “Once a semester we usually have auditions; in the beginning of semesters”
daze: Do you seek them or do they seek you?
Phrenics: “We put out flyers. We advertise, although some people come to us. You can’t just be good on stage to get in. You also have to be able to write skits.” “There is one other girl in the group, it’s not just me.” “Yeah, right, she’s mountaineering.” “Yeah.” “Guys, we’re on a tangent.” “Wow, this interview is incredibly useless.”
daze: Can you tell us about your upcoming show?
Phrenics: “No” “No” “Well, it’s called the ‘Traveling Medicine Show’ and it cures what ails you.” “Babies die” “No, the babies are just sleeping” “SHHHH”
daze: Well, we can understand you being reticent about an upcoming show. Can you try to describe it in perhaps 5 words?
Phrenics: “All new, all original sketch” “Bite-size hilarious awesome neon” “Fuck fuck fuck shit fuck” “Jacob’s mom says we’re great.” “Tell people to look for the street buzz!”
daze: Can you elaborate on the process of getting your ideas on stage? Phrenics: “Sure, we have a machine.” “Haha, yeah, it has this pump …”
“The first three quarters of a semester is dedicated to writing and revising.” “Then we pick several people in the group to perform each skit to the rest so we can decide how to improve it or to ditch it.” “Everyone who joins the group has to be a writer and actor, so we only use our own material and we never use material of someone who is no longer in the group.” “Then after revision, we vote a certain number to stage to perform in our shows.” “We only decide a week before the show on what actually is going in.” (Silence) “Let’s just get to the Ewok part.”
daze: Ewoks? Okay, elaborate.
Phrenics: “Well, we’ve been in the process of acquiring a couple of Ewoks off the Lucas set. We’re still in the negotiation process, but I think the Ebay thing has really revolutionized our Ewok acquisition tactics.” “We pay their passage from the Third Moon of Endor to Ithaca.” “Yeah.”
daze: What other things do you do other than perform at Risley?
Phrenics: “Every year we go to Skidmore College for the National College Comedy Festival. We also go to various other events if they fit our schedule.” “This past Winter we went to New York City and performed at the Gotham Comedy Club of Seinfeld fame on a stage that was like 2 feet by 2 feet.” “We are basically overshadowed by our alumni groups, though. Some of our alumni organized a festival in New York last fall called the Big Red Comedy Club that included the Whistling Shrimp, three alumni groups, and us.”
daze: Any closing words?
Phrenics: “We’re chalk full of … chalk.” “We support, uh, nothing, and we’re not affiliated with nothing.” “We’re no Nickelodeon, but we think you might enjoy our show.” “I’m active in the Cornell Model United Nations Club; that’s basically sketch comedy though.” “I dabble in the occult.” “I jerk off.”
daze: Jerk off?
Phrenics: “What, you guys can’t write that in the Sun.”
The Skits-O-Phrenics perform April 16 and 17 at Risley Theatre at 8 and 10 p.m.
Archived article by Chris Kakovitch
Red Letter Daze Staff Writer