Staff Writers Olivia Chiroiu, Gina Brown, and Erika Avallone took a trip to Latenite!
A new semester brings in a new collection of comedy sketches from Latenite, and the Fall 2023 anthology was as unhinged as ever. Even before the show started, the audience was treated to screen projections of everything from childhood nursery rhymes to sandwich-making videos, giving us a fittingly confounding taste of what was to come. This was especially appreciated since some of the sketches made reference to internet history moments I wasn’t aware of but would be necessary to understand to find the sketch funny.
The first sketch, simply entitled “hi.” is a tribute to Colleen Ballinger’s infamous ukulele-ridden apology video. However, taking Colleen’s place is an angsty, hormonal version of Christopher Columbus, who gives up on feigning remorse for the atrocities he caused in the Americas, and instead reveals himself as someone in desperate need of anger management classes. Basking in his ring light, he breaks into a chant-like rant justifying his actions, opening the anthology in the most Columbia way possible.
The following sketch, “Are You My Daddy,” featured a ‘babysitter-turned-babygirl’ navigating a dream realm to find her daddy. She unsuccessfully interrogates a vast range of prospective daddies, from a classic fuckboy to a pretentious LitHum professor, coquettishly asking the titular question to each one: “Are you my daddy?” The cultish marching of the daddies kind of tainted one of my favorite childhood books, but it’s okay!
“Chef Mike’s Grandma Special” creates a demented origin story for everybody’s favorite sandwich chef, whose intergenerational trauma may possibly be derived from his Staten Island Italian-American origins. Under pressure to create a new recipe for the sub shop, Chef Mike comes head-to-head with his emotional turmoil, which results in him shoving Grandma into the meat grinder. This one was a spectacle to watch, and I was right there with Chef Mike’s sorrow, heartbreak, and vengeance.
In “Dog with an Alt-Right Blog,” Disney Channel’s talking dog Stan gets busted for his participation in the January 6th Capitol insurrection alongside Gibby from iCarly and must plead his defense in a court presided by the honorable Ruff Bader Ginsbark. In this sketch, Olive Garden serves as the backbone of the American justice system, and there is deceit, judicial malpractice, and impressively photoshopped visual evidence abound. And a lot of dog puns.
“Ode to Music and the World” is a critique of the audacity of men, particularly those who falsely convey deep thoughts or musical ability. Through communicative body rolls, this skit fused Hozier, Ken, Kyle from Lady Bird, and y2k Justin Bieber into one man, who seduces NPC women by waxing poetic about nothing. Meanwhile, “Briefs” came in with a clear objective: to show the extent of society’s objectification and persecution of men who wear briefs instead of boxers. From childhood pets to Malala, the entire world seems to close in on an unfortunate briefs-wearer, circling him while ritualistically calling him a slut. These sketches were simple in concept but gave generally welcome breaks between the denser pieces.
Latenite rightfully chose to end the anthology with “Soup of the Night.” It features an incredibly sweaty man daring to order a “soup of the night” at a diner, sending the waitstaff and chefs into an existential and emotional crisis. The head chef ends up nailed to a cross, performing a parodic cover of “Night Shift” while excreting something that can be abbreviated to the word “shum.” Complete with a knockoff Carmy from The Bear, a scatological climax, and Lucy Dacus’ magnum opus to boot, “Soup of the Night” played out like SNL’s “Diner Lobster” sketch for sad gay people and the mentally depraved. And it was glorious.
There were standout performances throughout the anthology, noteworthy in their comedic deftness and general commitment to the bit. As Christopher Columbus, Matin Bagheri (CC ‘25) gave it his all, with a physicality that conveyed his deep spite. In “Grandma Special,” Macey Stancato (CC ‘25) as Chef Mike delivered an emotional journey with grandiosity, and Norah Vlas (BC ‘26) as a French Columbia executive gave a scene-stealing performance through her accent alone. “Dog With an Alt-Right Blog” featured great performances across the board, with Zainab Pate (CC ‘27) gleefully embodying Ruff Bader Ginsbark and both the prosecutors (notably Eliza Staples, BC ‘23) and defendants (Yoni Kurtz, CC ‘25) giving spirited performances that absorbed me into the deeply unserious courtroom drama. And in “Soup of the Night,” Emily Fernandez (CC ‘24) shone as the tormented chef, with a final lament worthy of closing out the show.
The set design was incredibly note-worthy: every prop had a place and a key impact on the storytelling components. The sketches were also dynamic: props were used throughout every sketch, and integrated the spoken humor with visual humor. In particular, I really enjoyed the way actual clips from Dog With a Blog were used to supplement the sketch. It was a great throwback to my childhood, but the sketch revitalized this pastime into something relevant today: the alt-right pipeline.
To say I left the show a changed woman may be an overstatement, but I’ll say it anyway. The way Latenite joyously distorted recognizable IP to meet its twisted ends was great to watch, and coupled with impressive performances, lighting, musical choices, and visual gags, the 2023 Anthology was a fun ride through and through. This was my first Latenite, and I can truly say I was impressed. So much of it was incredibly relatable to the average Columbia student, which allowed the funny bits to strike home. Humor and comedy aren’t always my go-to genres, but I enjoyed the show regardless!
Images via Olivia Kuan-Romano