October 17, 2010

Skits-O-Phrenic But Socially Sane

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The Skits-O-Phrenics performed their bi-annual show called the “Skits-O-Phrenics Fight Santa” at the Schwartz Flex Theatre this past weekend. Comprised of over twenty short 2 to 7 minute skits, all based on absurd premises, the show left its audience in unabated laughter. one-hundred percent original sketch comedy, the entire performance was written by the twelve members of the Skits-O-Phrenics. The Cornell group formed in 1992 and it selects new members each year to replace graduated seniors. Some of my preferred skits from the show included an intervention for a beer-selling obsessed guy with “beer-syndrome,” a series of portrayals involving awkward Jesus growing up in high school,and a speed-dating event involving creepy Mark who unsuccessfully attempts a wide-range of classic male pick-up techniques to seduce Sally.

Throughout the performance, the show facetiously poked fun at the absurd social norms accepted on Cornell’s campus and by society in general. While audience members certainly laughed, they were also left brooding over the bizarre conventions we submit ourselves to. The show sardonically covered many interesting topics that piqued my interest: college females’ acceptance and ironic advancement of derogatory language such as words like “bitch,” “slut” and “whore;” the fixation and prestige we tend to attribute to financial jobs; and sexual norms involving the way heterosexuals confine themselves to specific feminine and masculine roles. The Skits-O-Phrenics prowess in comedy is laudable, but even more so is their ability to raise controversial topics in a droll yet reflective way. Relative to comedy shows like SNL or MadTV, the Skits-O-Phrenics performance matched them in its humor, but far exceeded them in generating thought-provoking material.

The Skits-O-Phrenics members individually write scripts for each skit and then review them collaboratively. Johnny Livanos ’11, the current president of the Skits-O-Phrenics explained his inspiration when writing skits. “When funny things happen in my life, I just jot them down.” Livanos further elaborated that on a college campus you have the opportunity to see many ludicrous situations firsthand. Indeed, the show satirized many college habits. From seniors who feverishly obsess over job interviews to the consumption of “jungle juice” and Andre in an attempt at inebriation, it’s apparent that the show’s main source of material is from our very own campus. The frequent references to common college jargon and use of quintessential college personas like sexist frat guys, self-absorbed females and cultured intellectuals made the source of their material increasingly manifest.

Nevertheless, the show’s material was not solely confined to Cornell’s campus. Numerous references to pop culture permeated throughout the performance. In one skit, which seemed to imitate Louis Sachar’s novel Holes, a group of young laborers broke out in song to the famous (or arguably infamous) “California Girls” song by Katy Perry. Additionally, one of the later skits referenced the large slew of apocalyptic movies where two people are left to repopulate the world.

Many audience members who have seen prior performances by the Skits-O-Phrenics thought this one was the best yet. The show completely sold out the first night and had to turn people away. The second night had a packed audience as well. If you were one of the unfortunate few who missed the Skits-O-Phrenics this past weekend, do not fear. They are putting on smaller performances throughout the semester. This Saturday at 9 p.m. they are performing in the Statler Hall Auditorium at an “IthacAID” philanthropy event.

Finally, a word of caution to potential Skits-O-Phrenic viewers: the performance was filled with obscene language and material that was anything but politically correct. But ultimately, I highly recommend attending a show and stepping out of your comfort zone; you’ll reward yourself with a provocative performance that will leave you bursting in laughter, and also questioning the peculiar social conventions we capitulate to on a daily basis at Cornell.

Original Author: Julie Fulop