You know that inner conflict that happens when two people start fighting in front of you? You don’t want to be one of those noobs that grabs the popcorn and gawks at the drama, but at the same time, you really, really want to watch it all. Well, last night, it just so happened that Hart House’s half-filled Arbor Room became location for exactly that — except here, the conflict turned into an encouragement to get a drink and to kick back when it dawned on everyone that the fight between a loud couple was the opener for the UC Follie’s sketch comedy show That’s So Raving! Guilty-confused-relieved laughter ensued when the couple made its way to the stage.
The UC Follies, who are best known for their musical productions, are going back to their sketch comedy roots, which have been lying in the dark for the past 20 years. This neglect must have had Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels rolling in his grave (if he was dead) since he was part of the first group of Follies trying to revive the tradition in the ‘60s. As artistic Director Shak Haq writes in the show’s program for the night that this year that he’s taking the Follies in a new direction, reviving the legacy that has its origins in the ‘20s. The show included ten sketches that were often sexual, sometimes plain wacky, but almost always funny. Paying homage to the cast’s musical reputation, the audience witnessed a blind date where the lead was incapable of conversing in any other way but through song. His date kept feeding him — unwillingly — the “ins” to such hits as Hair’s “Aquarius” (“What sign are you?”) and The Sound Of Music’s “Maria” (her name). For the next hour the cast wove its way through eight more sketches, and despite some very funny and clever high points the audience seemed to be tiring out halfway through the admittedly weaker second half.
Judging by the laughter, the sketch titled “Smart Dumb” was an audience favourite. Six girls who could have been the Mean Girl’s gang in college years were complaining about the “stupid project” they were given in their philosophy class, reading Cosmopolitan upside down, and admiring themselves in their mini-mirrors. They somehow managed to talk about nail polish, haircuts, and guys through philosophical concepts, proving that there are more subversive (and funny) ways of playing with academia porn than is done in, say, The Big Bang Theory. While the awkward encounter between Megatron, a hooker, and a jealous C-3PO successfully tied nerd culture and sex (usually depicted as mutually exclusive) into a hilarious confrontation, the last sketch was trying too hard to be out there. A girl was giving a guy head while the various characters that had appeared throughout the show walked by, commenting on the scene. Having everyone reappear was a nice conclusion but the scene felt like it was dragging on at some points. All in all, That’s So Raving! boasted some great acting, introducing what the Follies are hopefully going to develop and keep in the coming years.