BC students (along with some faculty) enthusiastically piled into Gasson 305 on Friday, eagerly anticipating the night of improv entertainment ahead of them. Even before the show, the audience’s energy and excitement were clear—the dull roar of students chatting and laughing with each other could be heard from down the hall long before “Area Fifty Pun” began.
The Committee for Creative Enactments (CCE) is a well-established comedy group on campus, known particularly for their semiannual murder-mystery sketches, which are completely student-written and student-produced. Beyond these, the group also puts on three improv shows a semester, including both short-form (fast-paced bits lasting only a few minutes) and long-form (a 10-15 minute portion made up of several interrelated scenes) comedy that is entirely unscripted.
“Area Fifty Pun” was characterized by its short-form aspects, which took the form of improv games and constituted the majority of the show. These games give the performers a general structure through rules that they are required to follow or requirements they are expected to meet; however, the performers have great freedom in what they can say and do onstage—provided, of course, that they remain within the games’ parameters.
One of the well-received games involved a fill-in-the-blank mechanic—the performers could pause their scene to tap one of two audience volunteers on the shoulder; these volunteers would then have to offer up the next word/phrase for the performer to say. By the end of the scene, one of the volunteers was laughing too hard to offer up the next word, and the rest of the audience was in roughly the same position.
Another popular game was “Emozones.” In this game, the performers began by dividing the stage into thirds. Each third corresponded to an emotion; while in any particular third, the performers had to embody that emotion. The audience was asked to choose the emotion for each third, and the combination of “horny,” “happy,” and “existential” created a truly hilarious sketch that left everyone wanting more.
The final bit of the night was a CCE classic, performed at the end of every improv show: “Sex With Me.” In this game, which was the first to include every member of CCE there, the performers asked the audience to give them a word, which they then had to describe was like sex with them in some way. Naturally, this lent itself to some memorable one-liners, such as “sex with me is like football—it’s me and 21 other guys.”
The characterizing feature of CCE’s performance was the reliance on audience participation to set scenes and inspire the performers. From the inclusion of the audience within every sketch, the comedy group created an atmosphere of connection and camaraderie that worked its way into the performances in a way that many other groups aspire to replicate.
At the beginning of the show, it was hard to imagine that the crowd’s energy could become any higher. By the end—after nearly every scene elicited roaring laughter from the audience—it was difficult to imagine anything less.