Improvising a complete song in under 10 seconds, and then proceeding to get said song stuck in the heads of one hundred audience members, is a rather impressive feat. The ability to do it well, six times in one night, is mind boggling. The ability to design an entire musical around them entirely on the fly is essentially impossible.
And yet, the Committee for Creative Enactments managed to pull it off.
An incredible rendition of improv was unveiled last Saturday night in Stokes Auditorium, and CCE has yet again proved that it is top-tier in the world of Boston College comedy troupes. The “Senior Leaving Playbook,” a final show to celebrate the departing Class of 2016, illustrated exactly why so many people enjoy the work of CCE.
To introduce themselves to the audience, the actors had onlookers shout out their favorite curse words and then cheer for their favorite household animal. As the room warmed up, the crew announced their first game: an improv musical.
Calling this performance a game somewhat trivializes it, and this is a true tragedy because CCE’s level of ingenuity this time around cannot be overstated. There is something to be said for the abilities of an improv actor who can write cohesive songs—ones that are rhyming, no less—without any pre-existing plan.
In fact, the CCE improv musical was impressive even without the merit of the songs. Telling the story of an idyllic, plastic-flamingo-loving community, the musical explored the relations between each of the town’s citizens. Nothing is off-limits for CCE—incest, clowns, and calling your children ugly were all topics that were broached over the course of the night. The unnamed musical even had a redemptive arc and a moral, too: “family is more important than f—k.” Yes, seriously.
As the show progressed, CCE moved on to more short-form games. Classics such as “growing-shrinking machine” and “pan left” were brought out and executed with precision and poise. In particular, growing-shrinking machine is of great interest—the game begins with only two actors, but progresses upwards at an alarming rate. More and more actors enter the scene, and each time someone enters, the scene must change to something new. Finally, once the limit has been reached, actors leave the stage, and the scenes begin to progress backwards to their original states until only two performers are left. This improv game is typically a fan favorite, and with good reason: not only is it hilarious chaos, it showcases the ability of the actors extremely well.
Towards the end of the evening, CCE launched into long-form improv. This consists of a long-running series of routines, each of which is connected to another. In this instance, CCE’s long-form improv told the story of a man with rectal cancer, plagued by an overbearing daughter, a fame-seeking surgeon, and an eerily obsessive ex-wife. This, perhaps, is when improv becomes most interesting—when it becomes humorous, improvised storytelling. It is enjoyable for all involved to follow the stories and lives of freshly-created characters, and when the scenarios are injected with the perfect dose of humor, all the more reason to love the experience.
Strangely enough, the best part of the night was not the comedy, but rather the reason for the show itself: the departing seniors. Seeing them cycle out of the Committee is a genuinely sad sight. It is clear that the CCE underclassmen feel much the same way, as some tears could be seen in the eyes of both performers and audience members at the close of the show. Goodbyes are never easy, and the members of the Committee for Creative Enactments are more than just actors—they are a family.
Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor