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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The Floor is Lava is white hot New long-form sketch comedy group debuts

Published: October 12, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.

As the rowdy and excited crowd in the Usdan gameroom finally fell silent, the Pink Panther theme began to play and Elana Sandler 10 began to surreptitiously sneak past a sign reading Teachers Lounge before snagging a coffeepot, ominously squatting over it, and adopting a look of strained concentration.

So began the first show of Brandeiss new long-form sketch comedy group The Floor Is Lava, a group featuring Sandler, Mike Martin 09, Will Friedman 10, Chase Shutak 08, Matt Hope 09, and Shaked Hoter 09. Student Union Vice President Alex Braver 09 had a guest-starring role in this first show.

For their first performance, The Floor Is Lava opted to present their own take on high school life, playing a group of outgoing seniors who take action against their teachers on Senior Prank day. Failing to defecate in the coffee, Kate (Sandler), and her friend Julio (Hope) replace the sign Teachers Lounge with Teachers Lounge, horrifying disgruntled physics teacher Dr. Schrdinger (Martin), French teacher Mr. Romero (Shutak), and an overzealous guidance counselor (Hoter) with the switch from plural possessive to singular possessive

When the unreasonably cheerful principal (Friedman) merrily declines to take action against the students, Schrdinger and the guidance counselor take matters into their own hands and intensify the prank war by enforcing a new rules: students who fail standardized exam will be held back, in accordance with the No Child Left Behind act.

Meanwhile Romero and Julio, nursing a forbidden love for one another, try without success to get their respective groups to stop the madness. As the two groups trade harsher and more hilarious pranks, Schrdinger ultimately decides to kidnap Coco the Koala, the school mascot, and lock him in a box in his trunk (prompting Romero to protest, you cant lock Coco the Koala in Schrdingers box!). After the student inside the koala suit is found dead in the teachers trunk, the principal finally puts an end to the prank war, forcing the two sides to apologize to one another.

Overall, it was a hilarious performance that set a high bar for the upcoming weeks. The most impressive aspect of the performance was the range of the humor. From wacky, quirky characters, silly situations, witty exchanges to amusing but obvious jokes and even awkward homoerotic tension (which, given Hope and Shutaks performances, may never cease to be funny), The Floor is Lava covered all the bases.

Their debut gave us a principal who declared Exeunt! (pronounced ex-ay-oont) every time he left the stage, a teacher lamenting that students dont cry themselves to sleep over a D-minus on a test corrected in pink (another of the students pranks), a delightfully groaner-worthy exchange between Romero and the principal where each of Romeros lines featured a Simon and Garfunkel song title (beginning, naturally, with Me and Julio Down By the School Yard) and a deliciously tongue-in-cheek speech at the end from Julio spinning the shows moral as never question authority ever.

The Floor is Lava has a quite challenging legacy to followafter all, they are starting up in the months after Friends Like Theses disbandment by graduation. The new kids on the comedy block have gotten off to a very good start, though, and have certainly established a style that is distinctly their own rather than a rehashing of their predecessors.

If they can continue putting on shows as amazing as their first on a weekly basis, they should quickly develop a cult following on campus on par with their long-form sketch comedy forerunners. And I am inclined to believe that that is exactly what will happen as the semester rolls along.