In the midst of the pre-finals panic, there is often little time for humour. However, one McGill group is bringing joy and laughter to the community, providing some much needed respite from this terribly unfunny season. Bring Your Own Juice (BYOJ), McGill’s only sketch comedy group, hosted a three-night show at Tuesday Night Cafe (TNC) this weekend, featuring over a dozen sketches written and produced by the 11-person cast.
The sketches explored a range of subjects, from a parody of The Little Mermaid’s “Kiss the Girl”—in which Sebastian the crab urges Prince Eric to do a little more than just kiss Ariel—to skits referencing the disturbing and widespread theory that many public figures, are, in fact, lizard-people. The varied subject matter is undoubtedly due, in part, to the fact that the entire cast takes part in the writing process. Writing ability, in fact, is also part of the audition process.
“[For the audition the directors and producers] asked you to submit one sketch, and then, optionally, another piece of comedic writing,” Anika Hundal (U0, Psychology), a member of the cast, said.
The 2018-19 season is Hundal’s first year with BYOJ, and she is also a member of Continental Breakfast, one of McGill’s improv groups. Hundal’s featured piece in the show was titled “Emotional Baggage,” an ad “from the luggage company that brought you ‘Whiteface:’ The only thing guaranteed to get you through airport security without hassle.”
One notable sketch featuring Hundal was a slam poetry session in which every poet worked with a similar theme: “My parents are divorced but are still good friends.” As each slam poet revealed their emotional turmoil over their parent’s amicable divorce, the host became increasingly frustrated until Hundal entered wearing layers of clothing giving a seemingly profound reading while removing items, only to reveal a shirt with the words “my father left my mother” on the front and “but they’re still friends” on the back.
Other standout sketches included a ‘bro’ who discovers that he lacks object permanence when his friend “disappears” to the washroom, a girl from Toronto who finds out that she was adopted from Laval and is, in fact, Celine Dion’s daughter. There was even a skit that included a “Personality Shop for White People” which featured characteristics like the person who did a year abroad and a Plateau/Mile-End classic: The guy who owns a record player.
Morrice Hall was sold out, so some audience members had to stand on the side for the duration of the show, while others shared seats. A fully-packed theatre for a student comedy show is refreshing, especially as end-of-term stress bears down.
Hundal also extolled the close-knit community of the group, explaining that positive group dynamics were essential to a good show.
“We had a retreat to rural Quebec this fall where we just got to know each other and [wrote] a bunch of sketches,” Hundal said.
With group-based comedy like sketch, group chemistry is paramount and BYOJ clearly shows this camaraderie by translating real bonds and friendship into a perfect on-stage chemistry. The blend of writing and performing showcased the individual strengths of each performer, making the characters strong, believable, and, most importantly, funny.