With the lights glaring and Beyonce’s music blasting over the speakers in Keck 208, “Bees!” — a collection of seven comedic sketches and six videos written and co-directed by Kylie Brakeman (senior) as part of her senior comprehensive project (comps) — carried high energy throughout its opening performance. The theme of the show was based on Southern California pop culture, which Brakeman said she thought would be identifiable with a majority of the Occidental student body. The show took place Friday, Oct. 27 and Saturday, Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. Sophia Brown (sophomore), Eleanor Golden (junior), Cooper Raiff (sophomore), Will Youmans (sophomore), Alex Gambee (senior) and co-director and producer Greg Feiner* starred in the performance.
In the spirit of set comedy shows like “Saturday Night Live,” “Bees!” elicited many laughs from the audience as the performance poked fun at iconic pop culture references. These included “The Real Housewives” franchise, the man bun and BuzzFeed, to name a few. Sketches were based on eccentric dietary restrictions, traffic and directions in Los Angeles and being overtly environmentally friendly, specifically concerning the conservation of bees.
The show opened with a performance by Occidental’s only improv group, Fantastiprov, of which Brakeman, Feiner and Raiff are members. The performance consisted of short-form improv games.
Laughter and giggling were abundant on the opening night of the production. Many of the videos included were spoofs of law firm ads, YouTube video bloggers or popular reality TV franchises. Brakeman wrote, directed and edited all of the videos shown during the production. Actors made jokes about Google slides, band names and popular diet trends.
“We try to make each other laugh as much as possible,” Youmans said.
By the start of the show, the room was filled to capacity forcing some audience members to stand. The audience laughed, cheered and showed support throughout the entire duration of the show. One of the sketches included made fun of and referenced the stereotypical “Highland park dude” and their mansplaining antics.
After studying comedy with the Upright Citizens Brigade, Brakeman said she wanted to create a comps project that would reflect her passion and knowledge for sketch comedy.
“I really wanted this to be an encapsulation of everything I’ve learned here, and everything I feel that I can do,” Brakeman said.
Sketch comedy is something that has not been performed or produced in recent Occidental theater department history, according to Brakeman. With the culmination of a lifetime love of sketch comedy, Brakeman is proud of her role in doing something out of the ordinary for her comps.
“I was excited to do something no one in the department has really done before as a senior comps [project],” Brakeman said.
Crafting the show was a very exciting experience according to Youmans and Raiff. Brakeman described the processes as one that was cohesive and rewarding. The show also provided an opportunity for teamwork when it came to rehearsals, according to Youmans. Raiff agreed and said that Brakeman directed in a way that allowed for actors to shape their own characters and encouraged input from others. Because of this many of the lines and jokes came organically through the rehearsal process, according to Youmans. Although Brakeman wrote all the sketches, the performers were encouraged to provide their input and ideas.
“She was really comfortable letting people interpret the characters how they want,” Raiff said.
The mixture of both on-screen visuals and sketch comedy provided for an interesting combination, according to Raiff. He was most excited to see how the audience would react to the interchanging visual mediums throughout the performance. Raiff’s favorite sketches to perform and rehearse included “Man Bun Murder” and “Manic Pixie Intervention.”
“I really liked performing Manic Pixie because it felt like it required a lot more acting,” Raiff said.
Fantastaprov’s next show, “CVS Discount Halloween Show” will take place on Friday, Nov. 3, at 7:30 p.m. in the Newcomb common room.
*Feiner is an Opinions editor for The Weekly.