By Taylor Brethauer & Timothy Hamling, Editor and Contributor
Manhattan College students have come to know and love the crew of the improv comedy group, Scatterbomb, thanks to their hilarious shows throughout the school year. Around this time last year, the group introduced a new type of show to their standard line-up: the bit show. On Apr. 1, Scatterbomb brought the show back, much to the delight of their followers.
Entering into Hayden 100, students were met at the door with a chair holding slips of paper, pens and an overturned hat, along with a sign saying, “Please write a suggestion of a movie/TV genre!” This was similar to last year’s bit show, where suggestions for a sitcom character’s catchphrase was also pulled from a hat of paper slips with ideas from the audience before the show.
As custom to every Scatterbomb show, audience members greet their friends as popular songs play over the loud speakers within the small auditorium-style room. Everyone laughed and sang along to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” came on. More throwback style songs came on until the eight members of Scatterbomb came onstage with Simple Mind’s “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” playing in the background.
With senior member Will Lamparelli playing emcee, the show started off with a bit used from the previous year’s show called “10-Minute Movie”. This year, members Will Lamparelli, Kevin Donald and Madison Blecki managed to summarize the entire plot of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” within ten minutes in, as Donald put it, semi-rehearsed fashion.
Those familiar with the film were able to pick out well-known plot points like Cameron staring deeply into a painting in a museum or the parade Ferris crashes. The three Scatterbomb members played multiple characters from the film, inciting laughs at their attempts to match the film character’s mannerisms and accents. Although it might seem easy to pull off this feat in ten minutes, Lamparelli, Donald and Blecki did it graciously with tons of laughs.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to do a lot of experimentation with our improv,” said member Matt Clark about the Bit Show. “Normally we stick to one form and everything but it’s fun for us and the audience that we get to play some games and change things up a bit.”
The next bit of the show involved the suggestions given before the show. Members Sean Feeley, Robert Aparri, Jackie Hanna and Matt Clark acted out a scene while Will Lamparelli pulled various movie and TV genres from the hat. Each time a genre was pulled, the group had to change their performance style to match that genre. Examples pulled from Will Lamparelli include Quentin Tarantino film, Sci-Fi film, cooking show, and the Jerry Springer Show. Members from the audience laughed along as the group tried to quickly adapt to the fast changes.
Following this bit was a short musical bit. To start, four words were provided by the audience. After this, Donald emerged from the side of the stage with a guitar, and began strumming the chorus to Radiohead’s hit song “Creep”. The four words provided by the audience were used by four members of the improv team to develop four wacky short stories, all told to the tune of Donald’s guitar playing. After each story, the room belted out the chorus of the song and shoved the improvisor off the stage.
“I’ve been on the team for two years and I don’t know if it was the best received, but it was definitely my favorite show that I’ve participated in. It feels kinda weird to say it, but this show is just a little bit for us, to just have fun. But I do think that when we’re out there having fun, it reflects for the audience […] I felt very good about it, and what really determines if it’s a good show for me is not whether or not we’re doing our best improv, but whether or not people leave with a smile on their face,” said Donald about the show.
Another returning bit from last year’s show was the Backpack Sketch. Each improv member was given a backpack containing a random, unknown item placed in the bag by another member, and had to open them as the skit progressed. As items were pulled from backpacks during the sketch, the member’s reactions were just as genuine as the audiences. Some items included a charging cord, a magnet, and a VHS player, to name a few.
Then, member Angela Benevenia plugged her phone back into the speakers to play a secret playlist that the member hadn’t seen or heard before and Clark, Feeley, Lamparelli and Hanna motioned their way through this hilarious interpretive dance session.
One of the newest and most well-received sketches involved members acting out random scenes with their hands, and projecting the shadows onto the front wall. This crude form of hand puppetry was reminiscent of childhood creativity, but contained the humor and fast wit of the Scatterbomb crew.
“All the other bits, we drew from somewhere, we had seen somewhere else, but shadow puppet improv was one that Kevin and I came up with,” said Lamparelli about the bit. ‘[Kevin and I] were lying in bed and […] started doing shadow puppets on the wall, and we did it for like half an hour.” Lamparelli and Donald knew they had struck gold with the idea. “Shadow puppets entertained two people in college for half an hour one night, and we were like we have to do this in front of people,” said Lamparelli on his favorite bit of the night.
The improv crew performed another classic improv routine for the show: Translations. Two members would take turns talking in gibberish while two other members provided an off-the-cuff translation for what they had said. This bit allowed the group to demonstrate how well they could both talk and act on the fly, and it was met with much laughter.
For the final bit, the lights were back off and then back on and then back off again in something that could be aptly titled “Flash”. Benevenia, Donald and Lamparelli took turns reading off unlikely pairs when the spotlight was off. When the spotlight came back on, two Scatterbomb members had to do quick one-liners as their characters, like Homer and Lisa Simpson or Lin-Manuel Miranda and the actual Thomas Jefferson.
The only time the audience “booed” was when the show was over. Scatterbomb members lined the exit from Hayden 100 and received compliments from their classmates, family and alumni. As always, the Scatterbomb shows are ones to never miss out on.
With the end of the semester a little more than a month away, Scatterbomb has some big plans for the end of the school year.
“[We have] another standard show [planned], and then the much anticipated Scatter Prom. It’s very formal, get dressed up, and take a picture maybe,” joked Clark.