At the Boston Sketch Company, traveling turtle salesmen, tea-kettle-obsessed murderers, and the end of the world all came to life. On Feb. 17, the Boston Sketch Company brought their stand-up comedy show to Cambridge’s ImprovBoston theater. Composed of comedians Kenny Gray, Laura Rose, Mike Lovett, Samantha Merriweather and Sumeet Sarin, the group of five opened the show with a cringe-inducing Youtube introduction relying heavily on low-hanging, unoriginal references, and timeworn celebrity jokes in order to garner quick laughs from the audience. The show had a few good moments, but they were ultimately overshadowed by the humorlessness of many of the group’s other sketches.
Despite this overly meme-esque introduction, the group quickly proved their mettle as they began to perform some sketches. Self-deprecating humor and audience participation quickly created a relaxed and intimate environment, bolstered by the audience’s proximity to the stage. For example, in one particularly zany sketch, an audience member had to quickly move her foot out of the way to avoid getting lettuce thrown at her.
Some sketches were clearly innovative and somewhat profound. One such sketch, which featured a conversation between a therapist and a man who has anxiety, drew humor from relatable situations about everyday stress and concerns. Another particularly amusing sketch featured a family of two farmers: A seven-year-old boy and his mother conversed about the death of the boy’s pet bird. As the two came to realize that yet another family pet died, they began to discuss life and death using Einstein’s theory of relativity to inform their discussion of the perished farm animal. The sketches about the mundane landed well due to both their originality and relatability. Such sketches were able to somewhat redeem show.
Particularly uninspiring, however, were the sketches that relied heavily on melodrama, shock, and unoriginal content. Dramatic lighting and audio were overused at points and diverted attention from the substance of the sketch. One sketch depicted an engaged couple who realized the bride would become Mrs. Helen Keller if she were to take her husband’s name. After initial shock, the two asked themselves, “How could we not have seen this? How could we not have heard this?” before coming to a wholly unexpected, illuminating epiphany: “This is what it was like for her!” If one endeavors to take the clichéd, offensive, juvenile route that is the Helen Keller joke, one must at least make it truly engrossing or impressive, and Boston Sketch Company’s attempt at doing just that largely missed the mark. Other sketches were heavily prop-reliant, and drew focus away from the joke itself and instead placed attention on eye-catching yet unnecessary props—heads of lettuce, large stuffed animals—to invoke humor.
The most notable of the group was Rose, whose versatility as a performer allowed her to come up with humorous content on the spot during improvisational scenes. She also wholly immersed herself in her roles during planned sketches and dominated the stage with her talent. Additionally strong actors included Kenny Gray and Mike Lovett, whose solid rapport was clearly visible as the duo’s antics contributed to some of the more humorous aspects of the show.
The Boston Sketch Company’s show had a lot of promise, but many of the group’s sketches left much to be desired and were especially weak when compared to the group’s funnier pieces. At its worst, the sketches were cheesy unoriginal pieces overly dependent on cheap gags. Though some sketches were truly promising, the Boston Sketch Company should turn its attention to creating more complex, inventive sketches in order to rise to its fullest potential.