By Gianmaria Franchini
Tragically enough, UC Santa Cruz isn’t home to a vibrant comedy circuit. The fact is tragic because more comic showmanship could provide busy collegiates with healthy distractions from their intellectual musings. Armed with an appropriate name and the comic zeal of seven female UCSC students, the sketch comedy troupe SheBam offers our campus exactly what it needs: raucous and unbridled laughter.
But making people laugh on a regular basis is never easy, and SheBam takes its comedy very seriously. Outside of rehearsing six hours a week on a regular basis and once a day when their stage day approaches, the usually jovial cast members admit to unnerving auditions and intense writing sessions. SheBam rookie and second-year Amy Goodman described the group’s writing process.
“We all sort of brainstorm together and bounce ideas off of each other and someone will usually say a joke or one or two sentences, and that snowballs into an entire sketch,” Goodman said. “Then we bring that back and workshop and tweak it. When we get together, what we pitch is usually never what ends up being performed.”
Emily Heller, a fourth-year history of art and visual culture major, added, “Ideally, someone will bring an idea to the table and we’ll rip it to shreds — together, as a family — and rebuild it together,” she said. “Up until it’s performed, we’re changing things, trying new stuff out.”
SheBam’s first and only performance of the fall quarter was held in front of a full crowd at the Barn Theater on Nov. 16. Outside of a botched music cue that was handled deftly by fourth-year Camille Campbell, the evening ran smoothly. Some of the highlights included the “relationship hotline” sketch, in which cast members took phone calls and played the parts of stereotypically lovesick significant others.
At one point, it was announced that a half-eaten burrito lying underneath a lucky audience member’s seat was a ticket to a free SheBam gift basket. It included, among other sundries, cast member look-alike Barbie dolls, a videotape of the Star Wars parody “Spaceballs,” a picture of cast member Isabel Solomon’s mother and one multi-vitamin. The gift was politely returned.
There’s a certain sense of pride that comes with being simultaneously the only all-female and the only sketch comedy group on campus. Not only does SheBam breathe some life into UCSC’s modest comedy scene, their contribution is unique. The ultimate goal of the group is to perform good comedy, but the significance of their gender does come into play.
“We’re an all-female group, and there isn’t much representation of women in comedy — people are like ‘girls aren’t funny,’ and we can prove them wrong,” Solomon, a new SheBam member and third-year community studies and film major, said. “But also, [other comedy troupes] SAD and Humor Force are improv groups, so being a sketch comedy group, we break that mold.”
Heller, recalling her first impressions of SheBam, reflected on the impact the group had on her as a woman and comedian, but acknowledged that rousing up laughter is ultimately what’s important to the group.
“Seeing SheBam for the first time was a liberating thing for me,” she said. “I got to see this hilarious show, where a bunch of women played a variety of roles, and not once did I have to think to myself that the men were carrying it. But I don’t want us to be a ‘female comedy troupe.’ I’d rather be a ‘comedy troupe’ that happens to not have any men in it.”
_SheBam will perform again toward the end of winter quarter. Visit www.barnstorm.ucsc.edu for updates._