What makes a crowd of engineering students tickle? This, perhaps, was the question that the Thespians’ Society sought to answer for their annual sketch/improv showing or, at the very least, a question that was answered. With a crowd that filled up the basketball stands (in no small part due to the presence of free popcorn, with unlimited refills), it was certainly an event to watch from a birds-eye view.
There were six sets of improv, two stand-up routines and a story dramatization. The MoC of the night, Santosh aka “Santy”, set the tone, throwing a few of the ol’ “[insert department] won’t get placed” jokes. It had its intended effect of drawing quite a few chuckles from the predominantly first-and-final year audience. This, coupled with a fairly amusing interaction with the audience, set the stage for the upcoming improv sessions.
Improv has been regarded as one of the most difficult genres of comedy to portray, owing to the reliance of it on quick wit and with no space for practice.
Be it the earlier sets of “Genre Change”, or the latter half’s Word Game, their gesticulations made for some of the most hilarious elements of the night, sometimes making up for the minimal set-up. The former set was based on re-enacting the same improv performance in multiple genres, while the latter had every actor start the sentence with the successive alphabets. So, by playing to their theatrical strengths, they put up a show that, while not hundred percent within the domains of improv, was nonetheless a unique sensory experience.
Halfway through the performance, we saw the story of Hidimba and Hidimbi being played out. A retelling of the mythological story that set up the stage for the Mahabharata, this was perhaps the best offering the team had throughout BYOP, with the minimalist aesthetic reinforcing, rather than disillusioning the audience into the world of the mythology. It felt like the way one would imagine a story recited by the proverbial grandmother-on-a-rocking-chair would play out in the mind of her grandchild, a testament to their ability to gracefully tell a story.
The new addition to this year’s annual performance was the inclusion of stand-up acts. Three of them, to be precise. While stand-up is a form of storytelling, it relies quite heavily on the written content. The stand-up acts did manage to engage the audience effortlessly. The BYOP finale was a stand-up set involving hilarious stories about the shortcomings of the male reproductive organ. As that sentence is proof enough, it was no surprise that people were falling all over, cracking up over its weird placement in the human body, as the subject was further discussed.
An absurdist performance that followed next was a mixture of the self-loathing meme culture prevalent online and the paraprosdokian humour pioneered by comedians such as Jimmy Carr. While it wasn’t quite an equal, it still nonetheless evoked a ton of giggles. With such experimentation by the team, they believe that taking such risks will ultimately push the perception of theatre to the next level.