Students filled in the floor and flanked the balconies of the Vanderslice Cabaret room, coming together in large numbers for My Mother Fleabag’s fall “Big Show.” Unsurprisingly, those in attendance were quite familiar with Fleabag and its style, as scores of hands immediately flew into the air and voices shouted in hopes of adding to the night of improv. From start to finish the Fleabag troupe entertained and continually brandished its affinity for the spontaneous.
For the group’s Friday 10 p.m. set, Fleabag brought the skits and games we have come to know and love from the creaking boards of O’Connell to its new home on Lower Campus. For the first fall show in Vanderslice, Fleabag has begun a new era, livening up the corner room with the rings of laughter. Though the scenery has changed, Fleabag is very much the same and continues to do what the group has done well in past shows. The level of enthusiasm and passion paired with the inane suggested subjects is always a recipe for amusement as Fleabaggers bring to life things that one might never even give a passing thought.
In this Fall Big Show, the scripted skits shed light on the struggling marriage of method actor Daniel Day Lewis as a resolute Abe Lincoln. The precise delivery and pointed references by Fleabaggers Ben Halter, MCAS ’16, Chris Prall, CSOM ’17, and Caitrin Assaf, MCAS ’18, made for a funny scene.
Later, the “good cop-bad cop” routine was exchanged for “hood cop-sad cop” and a slew of other unlikely combinations to extract a confession. Culminating in a harrowing tale of a babushka lady, portrayed by Amanda Hoffman, MCAS ’17, scouring the ground for rubles yet finding only find used heroin needles, proves to be too much for the suspect in question.
Though the skits are clever enough and are sure to bring about a few laughs and smiles, the true heart of Fleabag lies in the moments the Fleabaggers themselves cannot anticipate. As creation happens in a moment on stage, an idea gives birth to something truly funny. The simple letters “BCT’” turn into the up and coming film title “Buffalos Can’t Talk,” tagged by “Or can they?” In an instant, the scene is alive as two Fleabaggers drop to all fours and embody two buffalo plotting to take their farmer unawares.
Brief ideas, fleshed out for just a second is all it takes to bring a smile to the face of those in the audience, like “riding the fastest green bean in the county.” Absurd, yet eloquently executed. These Fleabaggers are the masters of telling a story in three words or less.
And this is one of the reasons the Fleabag troupe always impresses and continues down a long line of successes and comedic triumphs. They understand timing, call-backs, repetition, and most importantly how to have fun. These comedic elements are present in every member given words or phrase can be seen to spark into motion their creative gears and cogs. The group’s classic ‘185 __’ joke can be filled with anything from Harry Potter to a legume of choice. It is all the same to our Fleabaggers. Taking the banal suggestions of audience members and making them into something funny is not an easy feat. And yet that unknown proves undaunting to Fleabag as it is that unknown that fuels the shows they put on.
That is why Fleabag is great, not because the situations they present are funny, but because they make them funny. Fleabag makes things funny that might not be, and through their presence on stage, projecting such a level of enthusiasm, we can all be made to see the funny side. Improv provides a home for spontaneous comedy and Fleabag proves to be a group who loves living on the frontier of creation.
Closing the night out sporting boxers for their opera, Fleabag called to experiences students may have had. Taking Lifehouse’s “You and Me,” Fleabag adds some guy named Steve as he interrupts an intimate moment at the Mods. While it can be said that the picture presented was a funny one, as Steve fumbled over his words, interrupting two young lovers, the bit spoke to the heart of what is so funny about improv. Neither the fictions created on stage, or the situational awkwardness that comes with the turf, nor Steve and his interjections, but those who make it all happen. The people who make us smile for a moment longer, even after all the laughter subsides.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Staff