Bad Comedy: The edgy stepchild


One of Bad Comedy’s posters, promoting their most recent sketch show. Photo courtesy of Bad Comedy.

One of Bad Comedy’s posters, promoting their most recent sketch show. Photo courtesy of Bad Comedy.
One of Bad Comedy’s posters, promoting their most recent sketch show. Photo courtesy of Bad Comedy.
Sitting down with the members of Bad Comedy, the edgy stepchild of the Macalester sketch comedy family, I realized that the people who got onstage in 10K last Thursday and Friday to parody Pope Benedict the Second and an RA conducting a floor meeting on shrooms are just people, too.

“I definitely think that there’s a misconception that we don’t have souls or something,” said a sophomore member of Bad Comedy.

Their Spring 2013 show, entitled “Bad Comedy goes on a Magical Mystery Sabbatical Tour” (you saw the Beatles posters with BriRo’s face), was R-rated to say the least. Audience members saw Bad Comedians act as a spokesman for a new iPhone app called Instaporn, creep across the stage in goat legs and horns, and prance around naked flinging peanut butter at each other.

Nudity is not a new concept in Bad Comedy shows. “I took my naked virginity my freshman year of college—and that was scary,” said four-year member Charles Carter ‘13. Reflecting on this semester’s show, though, he admitted “there were no people in the audience who we had to impress.”

“My parents were there,” chimed in a grinning Liam Downs-Tepper ‘16. “They thought the naked sketch was hilarious.”

Despite the provocative sketches in their Spring 2013 show, Bad Comedy members agree that the tone of the group has become (somewhat) more reserved over the years.

“People keep in mind now, who is the victim of this joke? Is it original in any way? Is it lazy?” three-year member Alice Davison ’14 remarked about the changes she has seen in Bad Comedy since her freshman year.

The members spend most of the beginning of each semester writing sketches individually. Occasionally, members use “group writing”—where one member writes a line and passes it around to the group—to create a sketch. Often, members write sketches with particular Bad Comedians in mind. After the sketches are cast, they workshop and stage each of them.

“Whoever yells the loudest usually defers to that role,” joked Ben Lauer ‘13, referring to the direction of each sketch. “We all end up directing something that we’ve written and that we love,” said Sarah Richman ’16, “so we do try to stick with what the writer wants for their sketch. It’s only fair.”

After a semester of rehearsing, Bad Comedy performs two shows to a crowded 10K. And of course, there are nerves before the lights come up.

“Sometimes you’re just like, wait, I put my shirt on backwards, didn’t I,” said two-year member Ruth Pardini ‘15.

The performers know that the people who show up to Bad Comedy shows generally know what they’re in for. Even so, the Bad Comedians agree that you have to remind yourself, “not every person is going to like every joke,” as Richman put it. “But when it goes right—when you write a sketch, and you’re backstage, and you hear people laughing, and you’re bringing people joy because of what you thought was funny—it’s fantastic.”

An outsider looking in might be led to believe that Bad Comedy’s work rides on pure shock value, but there is always thought behind what they perform for their peers.

“With comedy, we don’t make it explicit or intentional, but of course part of doing what we do is to reach audiences in ways that a lecture won’t,” four-year member Mariana Roa Olivia ‘12 mused. “So we do go for the core emotional reaction—and sometimes it might have things that are really weird, or that people are like, what the hell are you doing?!”

Don’t bring your little brother—or sit in the front row if you’re allergic to peanut butter—but consider attending a show next semester with an open mind. It will undoubtedly surprise you, for better or worse.