Returning in its fourth year, “Bring Your own Juice” is McGill’s self-proclaimed best and only student run sketch comedy group, developing responses to these pressing notions: How do we make Pepto Bismol the next Facebook? How does a lord and his entourage respond to spilled water, to peasants in revolt? And how do we react to rules that have changed? Positive yet self depreciating, you’ll follow sequences of perfected sarcasm in parody and satire. Hansel and Gretel are nearly eaten by their parents. Two mimes battle with implicit mime-frequency. Ten year old campers pose a threat to the sanctity of camp, for want of McDonald’s. Drunken monologues are spewed on the alienated but universal implications of life and death. The themes are relevant, fresh, and hilarious. They are also wide in scope, a culmination of many backgrounds contributing to a collective script. And yet, as director and actor Matthew Robert can attest, the cast of writers and actors receive no cash and no credits for this effort. Just lower grades. Perhaps that is why it is so obvious that this performance is a love-child of the willing, and despite the work load, no arduous task.
There is also something delightful about the upbeat soundtrack and the creative audio engineering couching this act. More importantly, the actors dominate with the words they have penned. Completely unabashed, this clever act fuses script with spontaneity. This doesn’t at all come off as stale; the group is having genuine fun. As producer and actor D.J. Mausner says, “Creating an original, accessible, and genuinely hilarious sketch comedy show in under a month is a big job for any troupe, let alone doing so while attending school. This is my third year doing the Bring Your Own Juice live show, and though many factors go in to writing, staging, and promotion, the dedication and enthusiasm of the entire cast is what really makes it happen. I think that’s why people enjoy our shows so much; it’s clear that everyone on stage is having fun and really believes in what we’ve made.” Initially, the group brings individual scripts, which are then peer reviewed, critiqued and edited. The scripts are later given points and the highest ranking are performed. This democratic process allows uncertain pitches to be tested.
In this year’s performance, absurdist heights were reached in my personal favorite segment, in which a radio broadcast and passive police officer declare that “the rules have changed.” Soon to follow is an attack by a shark balloon, entering by way of a remote operated toy car. What I like about this tactic is that it is a completely uninhibited and ingenious way of undermining the rules in theater. Pay attention to this group of self starters, humorists, and writers. You will adore them.
BYOJ performed at Players’ Theatre on March 9-10. You can keep up with them HERE. Make sure to check out some other work of BYOJ’s producer and actor D.J. Mausner, including, Joketown at Théâtre Sainte Catherine, Saturday April the 16th at 8pm. (264 St. Catherine Est.); Party Dinosaur at Montreal Improv Theatre, March 19th at 8pm. (3697 St.Laurent); and Silver Ladies at Montreal Improv Theatre, Thursday March 24th, 8:30 pm. (3697 St.Laurent)