The Comedy Combo Show has long been a staple of the first week of the school year. It allows Wesleyan’s many comedy groups to establish their identities for new students and shake the summer dust off with smaller performances for new audiences. And this year, as always, that audience was massive. The Nicolson Lounge was filled to the brim with attendants, to the point where some even stood outside in the rain to listen in.
It was, though, a bizarre evening, with the groups giving some of the weakest comedy performances in recent memory. With a palpable time crunch and the audience dwindling over the night, the event was uneven from act to act. However, the majority of the highly responsive crowd seemed to fail to notice this. In Wesleyan’s vibrant comedy scene, laughs can always be found.
Members of Punchline!, Wesleyan’s standup group, transitioned between other acts. Willie Zabar ’16 opened the night with musings on the evolution of whales, while Regen Routman ’16 encouraged first years to be bold with their Weshop purchases.
New Teen Force, a free-form improv group, set the tone for the night by diving straight into the realm of sex education and never looking back. New Teen Force defines itself by ending its scenes quickly and often, even compared to other short-form peers. Extended sequences must earn their length.
Lunchbox, a sketch comedy group, won the crowd over as it repeatedly delved into the topic of marital strife. The group’s distinct blend of whimsy and emotional devastation has yet to get old. Despite not being at their strongest, Lunchbox’s sketches earned some of the biggest laughs of the night. Even with a mere four members for the night, the group made clear that it strives on its chemistry.
Gag Reflex performed a series of improv sketches based on a story of learning to play the viola. It, too, covered the realm of sex education, which landed better for the first year class than anyone else. Gag Reflex’s greatest strength is taking a straightforward story and making it as deranged as possible, taking the concept of an ambitious musician to strange places.
Desperate Measures, an improv group, struggled to entertain with an ensemble of three, but still managed to win the crowd over. Due to the rapidity of the group’s improv games, the audience did not need to pay attention for very long. One of the final sets proved the age-old adage: People will always laugh at President Roth.
While veterans sought to return to form, other groups found their beginnings. Dainty Rubbish Service, a video sketch group in its second year, attempted to entice first years to audition with a short video about child rearing. Rachel Kaly ’17 announced auditions for a new all-female improv group, Wench. Lauren Langer ’16 promoted Female Hysterics, a new all-female comedy variety club. And Tekla Monson ’18 foretold a new musical improv group.
While the night was, to some extent, sub-par, it was by no means unsuccessful. The vast majority of the audience was eager to stay long past the original hour-long running time to see the final two acts. Even in the Nicolson lounge’s sweltering heat, many were laughing hysterically.