Arts & Culture

“A Night at Sea” full of outrageous laughs, devilish fun

Brown’s Out of Bounds sketch comedy displays creative genius, showmanship skills

By
Arts & Culture Critic
Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Brown’s Out of Bounds sketch comedy team hosted its “A Night at Sea” performance Saturday night in front of a boisterous crowd at MacMillan Hall. If the group’s performance was any indication of life on the high seas, sign me up for the next vessel leaving Providence harbor.

Of course, the sketches didn’t actually have anything to do with seamanship or nautical minutiae — not a single sketch even occurred at sea (with the exception of the opening vignette, which largely served to introduce the team’s new cast members). Nevertheless, every sketch was a compact display of creative genius and showmanship. “A Night at Sea” was awash with uproarious highlights.

So where does one even begin?

I’ll start in the middle of the show, with a sketch that left me in a fit of gleeful spasms. Emily Adams ’18 stars as a Bogart-esque film noir detective, complete with a cigarette and trench coat.  She has arrived at an unnamed office for a job interview but bewilders the interviewer and audience with a seemingly deranged series of cocksure overtures. She is convinced the man she is investigating is hiding inside of the office’s filing cabinet. In a wonderful reveal that subverts the audience’s expectations of the absurd, we learn that this man is in fact hiding in the filing cabinet. The detective role requires a committed and inspired performance, which Adams offers in spades. It’s a perfect marriage of great writing and acting: The sketch captures the noir detective trope’s wacky and antiquated vernacular cadences, and Adams nailed the delivery.

Other highlights included “Gary,” the hilariously out-of-place and inappropriate druggy clown auditioning to play a superhero in a sanitized production meant for child viewers. Chautaqua Ordway ’20  gave a standout performance as Gary in his inaugural show with the sketch company. A sketch about a visual arts class in which the day’s nude model is a little too familiar with the artists is similarly entertaining. Moreover, the model sketch demonstrates the writers’ great sense of comedic life-span: the joke which the scene is centered around is funny to a point, and the team moves on just before the humor grows stale.

Indeed, time and space are not wasted in “A Night at Sea.” The Out of Bounds team manages to mine humor from just about every walk of life and scenario — from an imaginative soccer goalie to a gonzo Career Lab professional to the SAT to the Boston Tea Party. They built so much comedic trust over the course of the show that I was almost disappointed if every upcoming sketch didn’t surpass the previous one in laughs. That’s about the only complaint I can muster — “A Night at Sea” was a fabulous lark.