For all of their technical skill and expertise, the comedy clubs of Boston College have a tendency to blend together. By no fault of their own, the sheer number of BC organizations can override the individual distinctions, which makes it all the more important for each and every group to find what makes it unique. Luckily for audiences of the latest show put on by My Mother’s Fleabag, the troupe knows its strengths quite well, and plays to them masterfully.
From the very first second that an audience member walks in, the distinctiveness of My Mother’s Fleabag is evident. Fleabag members have an unparalleled ability to connect not only with one another, but with everyone around them. As the viewers took their seats, members of the troupe found their places on stage, throwing candy to the audience to invite them into their world of humor and cooperativeness. This, perhaps, is the strongest piece of Fleabag’s work—each of its pieces, whether sketch, improv game, or otherwise, is crafted to make those who are watching feel like more than just a fly on the wall.
Take, for example, the game “Freeze.” An onlooker is chosen to be a volunteer, who then proceeds to arrange two Fleabag members into a bizarre pose to begin a scene. After the scene has started, any audience member can yell “freeze!” at any time, and two more Fleabaggers must take their places and begin a new scene from scratch. The premise, while simple, can result in hilarious scenarios for the actors driving the scene.
Very much in this vein is the long-running Fleabag bit, “185.” At the midpoint of the show, every member came on stage and offered the chance for viewers to come up with the subject of a joke. Once an audience member yells out a topic—in Friday’s show, topics ranged anywhere from sweet treats to bugs and insects—the fun begins. Any Fleabagger can make a pun out of this topic, but the catch is that the setup of the joke must be, “185 somethings walk into a bar…” Improv comedy, naturally, is the speciality of Fleabag, but hearing every single member rattle off several jokes made up on the spot was extremely impressive.
These improv games, of course, are only half of the show. The skits that Fleabag crafted for its spring show were not only hysterical, but once again had the uncanny ability to draw the audience in. In particular, the Cupcakes skit was phenomenal—featuring a young woman doling out desserts in a 300-person lecture hall, the usage of the audience as the students in the skit was a clever, innovative decision, and the handing out of treats made the bit that much sweeter.
It’s clear that the members of the troupe not only have chemistry with audiences, but with each other as well. One of the most unique games of the night, “Bing,” showcased this quite well. Two actors stood on stage, as per usual, and performed another audience-driven scene. In this case, however, a third actor stood offstage, yelling “bing” at the top of his or her lungs at random points in the game. When this took place, the actors would be forced to redo the last thing they said or did, resulting in a high level of backtracking, but an even higher level of laughter. As an idea of how off-the-wall this game can become, consider this: the four-minute scene began with a couple finding a mouse in their cupboard, and ended with taking John Adams into the future with a randomly-generated time machine. The Fleabaggers this year are skilled at playing off each other’s ideas, and this strength showed quite clearly all throughout the night.
This, after all, is perhaps the most important facet that any self-respecting improv group can have. At the end of the night, the underclassmen actors gathered to sing a song regaling how much they would miss their upperclassmen friends—a heartwarming end to a laughter-filled night. Every single Fleabagger has a clear and unabashed love for each other, and it truly serves to make his or her onstage performance that much better. It is a real treat not only to see them perform, but much more importantly, to see them at home with one another as well. Comedy will always have its place, but My Mother’s Fleabag has a bond that will last a lifetime.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor