Entrenched in scandal and slander, the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) building has been devoid of laughter for the past two weeks. Amid this chaos and disarray is McGill’s only sketch comedy troupe, Bring Your Own Juice, performing at SSMU’s Players’ Theatre. Their live show brings some much-needed comic relief to our campus, satirizing everything from college culture to classic literature. This year’s Bring Your Own Juice performance was thrown together by only 10 members over the course of a month. It is refreshing to watch a team that can thrive under pressure, and moreover, that genuinely seems to love and support one another.
Despite the 30-day turnover, Bring Your Own Juice is a deliberate and carefully crafted production. Director Harry Turner explains that the writing process is extensive, following pitch meetings to multiple drafts, all over the course of two weeks.
“In the final draft section we all vote in terms of our number one [sketches], and then the coordinators—me, the director, the producer and the head writer—all come together and based on that we pick the show and the show order,” Turner explained.
This democratic process is reflected throughout the show. Turner, Producer Tatyana Olal, and Head Writer Lillian King all take the stage and are equally dispersed throughout the sketches. All 10 performers occupy a dual role as writer. The myriad of voices makes for an entertaining and zany production.
The sketches are outrageous: In one scene, Nancy Ferranti gives a standout performance as a bro-ish phantom. Ferranti captures “The Ghost of Chad” in both her swagger and Californian drawl.
Yet, Bring Your Own Juice succeeds not only because of talented performances, but also because of a sharply written script. In one sketch about a hypochondriac visiting her doctor, Abbey Hipkin lists her pop-culture inspired diseases, including “Reverse Benjamin Button Syndrome” (Reverse Ben B), “Chronological Memento,” and “Pacifist American Psycho.” In a bizarre, modern-day take on Oedipus Rex, Cole Otto plays Eddie—a teenager ready to fight his dad to take his mom to the school dance. Bring Your Own Juice is unafraid to push boundaries: Eddie Rex admires his mother’s “voluptuous 5-foot-8 body.”
“[Our influences are] anything, literally anything,” Turner elaborated. “It’s dumb tweets, or a sitcom, or even Saturday Night Live.”
Shifting scenes from a Chili’s restaurant to a fashion talk show, Bring Your Own Juice finds humour in practically everything.
Bring Your Own Juice has a minimalist production value. Their only set pieces are a table and some chairs. Refraining from ostentatious costumes, the Ghosts’ wardrobes are just white garbage bags with holes for a head. Instead of an elaborate set, the cast relies on its talent. In a quick transition from doctor to disgruntled teen, Cole Otto’s main shift in costume is a strategic re-parting of his hair. The comedians also depend heavily on one another: Otto and Liam Carmichael have an especially good rapport in a sketch in which they must play nerdy and cool brothers, respectively. The performers work well together not only on stage, but also between scenes. Approximately every five minutes, the actors must replace sets and props to make way for the new scene. They do so in record time, each aware of their own jobs as well as the teammates around them.
Bring Your Own Juice is a comic feat that delivers on the “humour and charm” it advertises. A pleasant escape from midterms, and even from McGill’s darker news cycle, Bring Your Own Juice is the perfect remedy for winter blues.
Bring Your Own Juice is playing from Mar. 16-17 at 8 pm and Mar. 18 at 7 pm in Players’ Theatre on the third floor of SSMU, 3480 McTavish. Admission is $6 for students and $10 for general admission.