Real Live Action

Soda Fountain Sketch Comedy

w/ Nathan Hare, Graeme Achurch, Aidan Parker, Noa Kozulin, Rae Lynn Carson, Mark Chavez, Kevin Lee

author
Lucas Lund

A night so marred by technical difficulties shouldn’t have been so funny, but the November instalment of Nathan Hare and Graeme Achurch’s monthly sketch comedy show, Soda Fountain, somehow managed to pull off the impossible.

Right from the beginning, things went off track. As the crowd settled into the seats and the lights dimmed, an announcer’s voice came over the PA: “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage, the Chainsmokers!” Hare and Achurch stormed onstage as the music came back on.

“No, pause the iTunes. Wrong song. Turn off the iTunes,” said Hare, as the person sitting at the tech booth scrambled. With the wrong music off, they decided to start the sketch over. With a Chainsmokers’ style video projected behind them, Hare and Achurch began again, singing in unison about their religious fervour and abstinence, until the projections disappeared unexpectedly. As they turned to see what the disruption was, it lit up again with a blown up image of Lola Bunny from Space Jam, with the text “I WANT TO FUCK LOLA BUNNY” sitting boldly overtop.

“Well that kinda takes the surprise out of it,” said Achurch, before explaining the entire sketch to the audience as the song and projections were reset, “I guess we’ll just do it anyway.” They launched back into the already spoiled bit, somehow funnier than it would’ve been had it gone smoothly.

With that mangled intro, the tone was set for the evening. UBC Improv members, Aidan Parker and Noa Kozulin, came next with the only technical mishap-free sketch of the evening. While their students getting in trouble with the principal scenario could’ve been great, compared to the spontaneousness of the other sketches of the night, this one fell short.

A fully committed Rae Lynn Carson was up next with her sketch, “Dog and Order.” Dressed all in brown, with dog ears and a toy in her mouth, Carson entered the stage on all four to a modified Law & Order theme song, before launching into a courtroom monologue — done entirely in an exaggerated dog voice — about being framed for the theft of “some chicken nuggos.” While the absurdity of the performance was enough to keep the audience laughing, the seemingly random Law & Order “chung-chungs” really made the sketch.

The last sketch before the intermission was a guided meditation, led by Mark Chavez and Kevin Lee, who introduced themselves as Lysander and Lysander. Struggling to get the lights sufficiently low for their spiritual experience, the Lysanders embarked on a truly uncomfortable journey, complete with amplified mouth sounds, metaphors about the knees being the “Grand Central Station of the leg” and sporadic coughing fits.

After a brief break, the crowd settled in for the final act. Hare and Achurch were back with a lightning fast barrage of sketches, each one funnier than the last. The Soda Fountain duo ended the night on a high note, from a “cool boss” ridiculing an intern with increasingly troubling insults, to a Tip Top Tailors commercial trying to liquidate their large stock of Riddler suits.. While all the sketches of the night were top notch, Hare and Achurch showed that they were on their A-game, even if almost everything around them went totally off the rails.

Flavourcel presents Sloppy Seconds: A Night of Music and Animation

w/ Non La, Devours, Tommy Tone, Bored Décor

Words + Photography
Tate Kaufman

A blue pastel mouth lets its sloppy, sedated tongue roll in and out on the video screen; a strange Wiseau-esque creature hunches over a computer and drum-pad, microphone pressed tightly to lips: “We regret to inform you this is Tommy Tone.” I have to wonder if, with a long black wig and absurd composure (not to mention a shared name), the intent is indeed to explore an alternate universe, where the aforementioned film auteur took a musical route, instead.

As he parts the sea of people to create a catwalk for himself, Tommy Tone presents a strangely coalescent mix of irony and sincerity. While a loneliness underlies the songs, especially in the final track of the set, “God’s Mistake,” the presentation is taken to absurd heights. The new wave mainstay of a vocal echo-filter creates such an overpowering effect, that Tommy’s lyrics often become an indecipherable mesh of the past and the present — an apt description for the sound as a whole. The last thing I jot down in my notebook is that despite Tommy Tone consisting of a single member (who seems to be rolling around on the floor at the moment), he still carries a fully fleshed-out sound, so much so that, having listened to his studio work beforehand, I was taken aback by this fact.

Non La||Photography by Tate Kaufman for Discorder Magazine

With Non La coming up next, the graphic backdrops (all provided by the Flavourcel Animation collective) become significantly more mesmerizing. Here, we have an ever-rotating cube-like shape of nth-dimensional inception, slowly shifting its faces from one entrancing animation to the next. Non La is another solo effort (as a matter of fact, the final band is the only one with multiple members tonight), and the singer / guitarist lets us in on the fact that he had a stand-up gig the night before, revealing that he has not practiced for tonight. Luckily, it doesn’t show, as his cheery guitar driven sound (which carries the youthful yearning of a band like Grouplove) and well executed solos fill the room with energy. Sausages are now dancing across the cube-like shape, and are soon replaced by swimming book-squids. Psychedelic visions such as these dominate the backdrops of the night and create a dreamlike technicolor atmosphere, which is heightened by the fact that these animations are being projected not only onto the wall, but onto the bands themselves, creating a cohesive whole of both sound and animation.

Now, with sparkly and hyperbolized eyebrows, Devours takes the stage, serving up dark electronica with a side of ironic sampling (making perhaps the most creative use of b4-4’s “Get Down” I’ll ever see). As swirling oceanic peppermints melt into a green vortex and surging arteries drift across the void, Devours busts out a tambourine. As the tempo accelerates, the set builds to a triumph and the crowd convulsively hops along. Devours chooses his samples wisely and each one adds a deeper layer to the song it weaves through.

Bored Décor||Photography by Tate Kaufman for Discorder Magazine

Finally, Bored Décor start their performance on a peculiar note: the lead singer close-pins his nose shut, which, while making for an entertaining Pinocchio visual, fails on an aural level. Nonetheless, the band is tight and once the close-pin is discarded, the lyricism and singing shine through, especially on “I, the Luddite” which since my first hearing it has become a new favourite of mine.

As a night of entertainment, you couldn’t have done much better than Flavourcel’s Sloppy Seconds. However, I can’t quite say that this was the best way to display the animation talents of the Flavourcel collective. However remarkable, their animation seemed to take a back seat to the music. It would be nice to see the animations in a setting where they themselves are the focus, perhaps with a more ambient music backdrop — in some way that would best display their fully seductive and hypnotic power.