Harvard Sailing Team 

Consistently strong comedy ideas from a likeable young troupe

The members of Harvard Sailing Team (HST) have said it themselves: one of the great things about sketch comedy is the brevity of its scenes. If you don’t like one, then another one will be along shortly that’s more to your liking. But this New York humor group has the opposite problem. Some of their sketches are so captivating that you don’t want them to end.

HST has nothing to do with the Ivy League college except its clean-cut approach to material. It’s not so cerebral that gags are lost in equations of cleverness, and the team doesn’t resort to crude humor to get cheap laughs. HST reaches everyone in between, from kids to rednecks to blue rinse biddies.

The team has been honing its latest show “100 Years of Song and Dance” at NYC’s People’s Improv Theater for the past few months. We’re getting the Greatest Hits version. There’s nothing terribly sharp or groundbreaking here; that’s not what the performers are aiming for. Instead they deliver consistently enjoyable, droll, and downright endearing situations that contrast romantic notions with the harsh practicalities of life.

For example, what if the president got bored at work one day and started singing to an imaginary bluebird on his arm? Would his aides burst into song or send him to the funny farm? How about a dance routine with lovers miming the lows of their relationships as well as the highs? Or a version of Beauty and the Beast with a bookish Belle and a psychotic Gaston?

Although the group is large, each member is given a chance to show his or her strong personality. Jen Curran and Billy Scafuri make an effective double act. Rebecca Brey is the petite naïf who inspires others to sing. As far as vocals are concerned, it takes the team a while to warm up but once they do, Clayton Early and Chris Smith are particularly good at carrying a tune. But the undoubted star of this particular show is Adam Lustic, who gets the best lines and the best parts.

Lustic is great as the uptight loner who wants to fit in but is too weird or awkward to run with the clean-cut types. He plays an old man who uses a push button phone in an unusual manner. He’s Art Garfunkel, unintentionally sabotaging a duet with Paul Simon. He’s a hot dog vendor gangling around an ice rink during a figure skating championship. In all these scenes he embodies the combination of vigorous physical comedy, pop cultural references, and characters that are daft yet identifiable.

Although several members of the team could doubtless be stars in their own right, there’s a sense of camaraderie and selflessness in the group’s work together, which culminates in a big musical climax. All of the scenes have a solid structure and some of them — like a romantic number marred by an illiterate singer — would be great in a longer form.

The opening night of this production had the audience singing along to songs, laughing at every sketch, and empathizing with the silly situations. If you’re looking for mild yet consistent laughs, give this team a try.

Harvard Sailing Team • Piccolo Fringe • $15 • 1 hour • May 27, 29, 31 at 7 p.m.; May 28 at 8 p.m.; May 30 at 7.30 p.m.• American Theater, 446 King St. • (888) 374-2656

Related Locations


Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Classified Listings

Powered by Foundation   © Copyright 2017, Charleston City Paper   RSS