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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Chum’s show brings clapping, stomping and hilarity

Published: November 1, 2013
Section: Arts, Etc.

One of this week’s many coffee houses was presented at Chum’s by the cast of “Hamlet.” Fortunately for the coffee house planners, the sheer talent presented that night made up for the lack of punctuality.

So Unique performed first, and (literally) kicked off the night with series of clapping and stomping. Although it was not an a cappella performance, the strong beats created a song of their own. Gradually, the complexity of the step dancing increased; more groups of dancers joined, creating syncopation and alternate beats. Much of the crowd consisted of supportive friends and a mom, all of whom cheered and screamed loudly. I was very impressed by the intricacy and unity of their movements and sounds. The group is indeed unique. They are talented and were well-rehearsed.

After a whirlwind of stomping and clapping, So Unique stepped off the stage to make room for four of the leading members of the campus’ sketch comedy group Boris’ Kitchen, one of Brandeis’ most renowned comedy troupes. Prior to their coffee house performance, I had heard many people rave about how good they are. However, Tuesday night was a disappointment; the jokes were not as funny as they could have been. However, there were a few moments when Boris’ Kitchen hit the right notes. Although this show did not live up to its hype, I can see why they are so beloved on campus.

Following Boris’ Kitchen was Bad Grammar, an improv group. I felt that Bad Grammar’s performance was much livelier than Boris’ Kitchen’s. By including the crowd, Bad Grammar was able to liven up the audience. Their first performance was about a girl named Liz, who is late to work and is interrogated by her boss. The audience had to choose two reasons why Liz was late—we decided she got stuck in quicksand or she got cut in half by a man in a suit of armor. Using these reasons, Bad Grammar improvised a skit where a very sarcastic Liz had to fabricate a story that explained her tardiness. Bad Grammar did a spectacular job of keeping the audience on their toes by executing short but funny skits.

However, there was one joke that truly missed the mark. At one point, each Bad Grammar member had to say, “I like my men/women like I like my homework,” and then finish off the sentence with some kind of pun or clever ending. One performer said, “I like my women like I like my homework…at home doing work.” I interpreted this as a reference to the belief that women should stay at home and carry out domestic jobs. Myself, and many other females in the room were not too happy to hear this. Albeit, it was said under high pressure during an improv performance, but it was still disappointing to hear something like this, especially at Brandeis.

Feminist thoughts aside, I thought that Bad Grammar was probably one of the best acts of the night. After their act, the cast of “Hamlet” sampled their play by performing a short selection of scenes. The majority of the cast spoke with an American accent, which was a bit unexpected because I’ve always imagined Shakespeare plays to be performed in a British accent. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the scenes, which effectively enticed many in the audience, including myself, to want to watch the full production of “Hamlet,” which will be performed in the SCC Theater from Nov. 7 through 10. After a few charming, well-done scenes and a skull (accidentally) thrown off stage, it became clear to me that this year’s production of “Hamlet” is going to be fantastic. Brandeis is clearly full of talented artists.