January 8, 2018

Occam's Razor Cuts Its Teeth at the Revival

Improv comedy troupe Occam’s Razor began its Winter Quarter circuit with a performance at The Revival last Friday evening. The group painted an absurd, eclectic, yet complete landscape filled with running gags, improv games, stand-up, and its signature brand of subtle humor.

For a modest entrance fee of a single dollar, the show began unconventionally—with an intermission. During this time, members of the group would approach the stage to retrieve their pants from second-year Shalma Wegsman with piano accompaniment from fourth-year Dan Lastres. This intermission was a microcosm of what would turn out to be Occam’s biggest strength: variety.

Variety found its way into all levels of the performance. The group was able to vary the cadence of their deliveries, their punchlines, their characters, the games, and even the space around them in a grand expression of nonlinearity. The Occam’s crew was an ever-shifting display of caricatures moving in and out of seemingly disparate vignettes, nimbly escaping to the next comedic moment by the time their joke lands and the audience understands the punchline.

The multiform layout of the performance was another example of their variety. After the intermission, the group played an improv game with all but one member displaced in the audience. The group managed its offstage space well, such as when third-year Lucy Johnson received and responded to dialogue from the rest of the group while dispersed within the audience. In a later standup, Lastres similarly integrated several audience members into his act. After the improv game, the group’s manager, third-year Patrick Doyle, was given a set of index cards and asked to be the MC. Between this segment and the following stand-up acts, it was never clear what was planned and what was improvised, but this ambiguity never detracted from the humor of the set.

Although Occam’s usually performs in the Reynolds Club FXK Theater, they seemed right at home in the Revival performing for a full house. Fourth-year Hanna Gregor had a strong performance, delivering some of the night’s best punchlines in her extended sourdough-as-a-weapon bit or as one of many characters highlighting her comedic range. Fellow fourth-year Rubin Soodak also had a strong night, delivering intense and dynamic characters for each scene.

Yet nothing comes close to the laughs had whenever a member of the group would come to the stage and, in the course of joke telling or acting, take a bite of some fresh food, the most surprising of which was a raw egg. The whole ordeal felt like some kind of inside joke known only to the performers.

All in all, Occam’s delivered a well-curated performance. Go to one of their shows if you’re looking for laughs, fun surprises, and classic improv to get you through the quarter.