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Saturday Night’s Alright for Improv

Jester’s correspondent checks in with PIT regulars Big Black Car and The Baldwins

By Cristina Merrill / Jester correspondent

Pictured: The Baldwins

Saturday night is a big deal in comedy. It is when the big guns come out, when the serious funny people bring the extra big laughs. On Saturday, Oct. 2, The Baldwins performed their specialty of long-form improv at The PIT -- and brought a good mix of verbal and physical humor. They were followed by Big Black Car, another long-form improv group whose humor was more conversational. Both groups earned a good amount of chuckles from the audience, but The Baldwins had something that Big Black Car severely lacked: energy.

There is a fine line between subtle sly wit and dialogue that falls flat and becomes boring. Unfortunately, “Big Black Car” crossed this line several times. They had their moments, but overall, their humor was too low-key and quiet -- not exactly what an audience would expect on a Saturday night.  

The Baldwins stuck with a few familiar themes throughout their portion of the show, such as models, dating and evil rabbits. Several Baldwin members portrayed models, stretching and walking ridiculously around the stage. This willingness to be silly is one of the group’s greatest strengths. “I had cotton for breakfast,” Baldwin member Meg Griffiths said. They even poked fun at themselves, with several jokes referencing member Chris Griggs’ hair, or lack of it. “It’s good to have hair,” Griggs said, playing a female model named “Greta.” “Everywhere, Gretta?” asked Griffiths. 

The best bit by The Baldwins was by Griggs and Sarah Nowak. They played a couple celebrating their monogamous relationship, which they had managed to sustain for four hours. Griggs even comes up with a written agreement about their monogamy. They ended their storyline by inviting a third party. “We thought it would be fun to add someone to our monogamous relationship,” Nowak said.    

Big Black Car started off by sitting in chairs and having a sort of roundtable discussion about vegans and vegetarians. This led to one of their best pieces of the night – a tongue in cheek reference to the time Dick Cheney shot an elderly man in the face while hunting quail. There was a scene in a restaurant named “Cheney’s,” with group member Ashley Ward noting that it was “very politically charged for a restaurant.” The discussion on vegetarianism also led to a long-running “vagitarian” gag, referring to female genitalia. “Would you like the tasting menu?” Nate Starkey (see interview, 4/2/09) asked a fellow performer who had come to his restaurant. 

Big Black Car fared better during the second half of their performance, as the improvisations became more focused with better-structured scenes. Several jokes were related to spices, with one performer telling others to cut up onions and put them on “our bathing suit parts.” “It’s 2010, ladies,” he said to them. “Take a hold of that and ride your spice.” Another good piece was when they played members of a book club and, when asked what they thought about the book “Savannah,” would read blurbs from the book jacket in an attempt to pass those off as personal opinions.   

The Baldwins did the Saturday night time slot justice, performing a blend of both physical and verbal humor. Although Big Black Car had their share of laughs, their overall performance lacked the Baldwins’ energy, making the show drag. But anyone can have an off night. Big Black Car’s cast members have talent, but if they had thrown more energy into the performance, the laughs would have come in waves.

The Baldwins and Big Black Car return to The PIT at 8 p.m. on Saturday nights throughout October.

 

   

     

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