33rd & State’s new show an intersection of scripted sketches, live laughs

Photo courtesy of Bill Lacy
Photo courtesy of Bill Lacy

With 13 videos, one sexy German named Klaus and more than 15 minutes of video to its name, 33rd & State is once again trying something new and novel for Marquette — a live, fully scripted comedy show.

The group will debut its first entirely original live show tomorrow night at 8:30 p.m. in the Straz Tower Theater.

“We always knew we didn’t want to do just videos; we really wanted another element,” 33rd & State performer and co-president Bill Lacy said. “This show is going to be kind of a big finale for the year, to show versatility that we can create videos and put on a full live show.Well, hopefully, if it goes well,” he added. “Maybe they’ll tell us to just stick to videos.”

On top of producing weekly videos, the group has been concocting the live show for most of the semester.

“When we put something in the show we workshopped it usually three or four times, so we’re excited because when you read the same joke over and over, you kind of lose the humor,” co-president Charlie Mohl said. “We just have to remind ourselves that: oh yeah, we, too, found this funny three months ago. We’ve just continued reading it for three straight months.”

33rd & State is an offshoot of Marquette’s longstanding improv comedy group, the Studio 013 Refugees, better known as the Fugees. But Mohl and Lacy expect this new show will bring an entirely different atmosphere.

“In improv, no one ever pumps the breaks. I think with sketch comedy everything is its own isolated joke,” Mohl said. “With improv anything can happen. It’s super fluid, and that’s what’s great about it, and with sketch comedy there’s a lot more structure to it.”

The 33rd & State’s video series began in January, mixing longer, three-minute videos with sketches that clock in at less than 30 seconds.

“We live in the era of the Internet where we know people see four-minute videos and are like, ‘Do I really want to turn it on?’” Lacy said. “So we know if we can just do a 15 or 30 second thing we can get more views and we can do the quick punch people are going to like.”

In many cases, 33rd & State videos are quick jokes, like the spoof commercial for “Son Screen,” a lotion for disgruntled fathers that blocks annoying sons. There’s also  short snapshots of characters, like Klaus the German selling a clothing line called “Sex Noise” and more concept-based clips like “Cool Guys Who Like S—-y Things.”

“Charlie and I live together, and a lot of the ideas come from us just talking about funny things,” Lacy said. “And (Cool Guys Who Like S—-y Things”) was one that came up that way. I was like ‘It would be funny if you had a friend who’d say like — Hey, man, come over. Lets eat a bunch of pizza, get high and watch Big Bang Theory.’ I mean, I don’t want to offend anybody, but I don’t think that’s a real TV show.”

In a bit of a departure from the short, contained videos, 33rd & State hopes to focus on longer sketches for the live performance, more like one of the group’s most popular videos, “Tour Guide” that made jokes from classic Marquette entities like Lalumiere Hall, the bridge and even Marquette’s male a cappella group, The Naturals.

“There’s a barrier when you’re watching something online because you can just switch to something else and you’re not necessarily a captive audience,” Mohl said. “But that’s the thing with the live show: People may be more invested for different kinds of stuff.”

Though the first ever live version of 33rd & State is a new move for the group members, they still hope that what Marquette students liked in the videos will translate live.

“When you watch something that you hope is funny, you’re kind of putting your trust in someone. Like ‘OK, hope this is funny, you told me it is,’” Mohl said. “I hope that the trust we’ve garnered with the videos sticks with us for the live show and people enjoy it.”