Like Bwoggers before me, I was not truly prepared for the madness of Latenite. The comedy group for new and original student theatre put on their semesterly Anthology show, a collection of seven sketches written, directed, and acted by Columbia students. The pieces ranged from vulgar to absurd, in case their photo on Facebook didn’t give that away. If you looked at the photo in this article and thought that this show might be for you, then it definitely is.
The following was printed in the program: “Trigger Warnings: Graphic depiction of violence: Urban Mass Jesus Class. Depictions of Incest: Honey I Am Now At The Home. Body Horror: Waffle Cone Wednesday.”
The first sketch, “Spider Man,” set the show off on the wrong foot. It came with a brief production note: “Instead of sleeping I like to lay in the bed and wonder if I am good or bad. :(” The text contained more original dialogue than the sketch, which, like a cheap skit, drew out one joke for minutes on end. The audience seemed to enjoy it until I realized that about 30% of the people in the room were members of Latenite, who waited behind the risers instead of in another room. As such, the comedians had a primed audience to work with, which can admittedly make it easier for the viewers to laugh and enjoy the show. However, the overwhelming presence of Latenite performers in the room felt like a shady tactic to make the skits seem funnier than they were.
But after “Spider Man,” the show really picked up. The next act, “Sad Boys Club,” followed Werner Herzog as he created a nature documentary on “the ignominous Sad Boi,” a unique species “within the fuckboi phylum.” While drawing on the previously defined trope of the sadboi, “Sad Boys Club” brought an original angle by using the nature documentary form to hyperanalyze the social behavior of the two main characters. The role of Werner Herzog gave Amelia Arnold plenty of room to wow the audience. The next show, “Fist Me Bro,” was shorter. It put us into the fraternity (G)Gamma (A)Alpha (Y)Upsilon, where a trio of frat boys exhibit more than just undertones of homoeroticism. The shortest sketch, it knew not to stretch out its joke, and it successfully kept the audience guessing as to whether or not it would commit to its punchline.
The show really picked up with “Urban Mass Jesus Class.” Maybe the longest of the seven pieces, “UMJC” followed an after-school special plot as it traveled further into absurdity. Much like “Too Many Cooks,” this sketch successfully went from ordinary to over the top to irreverent. A kid in school gets bullied by others who dislike his Christianity, but with the help of Pastor Mike, everyone learns a very valuable lesson.
Everything traveled back into the nonsensical with “Honey I Am Now At The Home,” which looked like Tommy Wiseau’s attempt to direct a live-action Garry’s Mod YouTube Poop. It began with a slideshow by the writer of the play (Hello It Is I Am The Little Man I Wrote This Very Good Play), whose dialogue was reprinted in the program, taking away from the surprise of the piece. More than random, this work will challenge your sanity and test your limits. After the writer’s prologue, the show itself follows a regular sitcom plot a la Full House, but with something distinctly wrong about every actor.
Briefly breaking up the absurdity is “The Decoder Commercial,” which sells a product that can decode the language of sly Columbia students. Whether you’re on a date at community or in the Lit Hum classroom, this device promises to sort out what everyone is really selling. It was quick and a bit punchy, inserting some regular and unironic sketch comedy into an absurd night. If this video were posted to a Facebook page, it would spread like wildfire along the Columbia community.
Finishing the late night was Waffle Cone Wednesday. In the fifth dimension of imagination, a group of actors in black Morphsuits sing, “Let it snow, Hell is real, let it snow.” A man chooses not to buy a waffle cone and faces increasing psychic damage because of it. The satanic tones of the piece only darkened as it went on, evolving from kitschy to genuinely creepy. The piece was effectively placed at the end because I definitely did not want to sleep after seeing it.
If you’d like to see Latenite, there are two shows tonight at 8 and 11 pm. Tickets are sold out, and the waitlist fills up very quickly. You should be there exactly when they start taking names for it, which could be as early as an hour before the show. If you want to bug people for tickets, you should go do that on their Facebook page. This is a weird show for weird people – if you think you’ll like it, you almost definitely will.