The guys of Buffalo Sketch Comedy (BSC) are back on the stage for the first time in 2015, once again taking over the Arena the last Saturday of this month and next. The last time they were together was October 2014, for a four-month run of live sketch comedy, video, puppetry, and light nudity.
Whenever this fluctuating cast of Buffalo performers from the improv and theatre worlds comes together (this run will feature Chris Scherr, Tony Mangano, Will Excel, Pete Sterchek, and Steve Copps), a certain je ne sais quoi fills the space. It might be due to the irregularity of their live shows, or the fun in seeing screen actors in person, or just the way they all mesh together as a unit. Whatever it is, catching the rare live BSC show is certainly a must for any comedy fan ‘round these parts.
During ‘hiatus’ months, BSC can be regularly followed via their group’s video body of work. Since 2009, the group has produced myriad film shorts, spoofing recent newsmakers like the ice bucket challenge and daredevil Nik Wallenda, as well as sharing screen time with puppet co-stars and ribbing the Buffalo Bills.
This video component allows for a more flexible creative outlet, when the time it takes to produce a live show from the ground up is simply not feasible said Chris Scherr, unofficial team captain of the crew. In order to bring their celluloid dreams to cinematic life, the group enlists various local filmmakers in their efforts, most frequently local director Matthew Lorentz.
After watching Lorentz’s submission to the 48 Hour Film Project a few years ago, Scherr immediately knew he wanted to work with Lorentz & Co. in any capacity. After collaborating on a few shorts, Lorentz asked Scherr his interest in filming a full length feature movie, an idea he had been kicking around for a while but hadn’t been able to lock in on. Scherr enthusiastically agreed, and soon found himself taking lead in the wonderfully irreverent B.O.Y.D., released in 2012.
Because of the capabilities of the venue where they perform – which includes a full sound system and flat screen monitors — the live show incorporates as many multimedia elements as possible. During this run the group will show work by parodist and YouTube star Jason Bojangals, as well as screen the Final Four videos from their own body of work that have made it through March Madness-esque voting rounds in the last few weeks. The final two runners-up will then be voted on at the show, through audience ballot as well as live Tweets. It is a silly endeavor that’s succeeded in pushing content out to those who might not have seen it the first time around, and in getting a sense of what, if anything, the discerning public dig out of their merriment makers in town.
In order to create the monthly show, the group meets during Week 1 to hash out ideas for sketches based on the news of the day and nascent one acts.
“It honestly takes a full month to get one show to where everybody can be fairly happy with it and not lose sleep over it,” Scherr said. Rehearsals get canceled, people get sick, life gets in the way, yet the group is able to produce a new, fresh live show when they decide it’s time to do so.
“With life always changing and the news always changing, there’s always something that catches our eye…In that respect, we try to go with the Saturday Night Live approach and pitch a bunch of new ideas at the beginning of the month and try to develop the ones that we really like within a week or two. It really does take a full month to put it through the ringer,” he said.
The cause for the most recent hiatus in live programming stems from the commitment to a larger project currently looming on the horizon; something that is exciting and big and still a little hush-hush on the DL. Scherr simply couldn’t contain a few random tidbits, however, and we simply can’t wait to hear even more.
“All the work I’ve been doing in the past few years with this sketch stuff, I’m hoping this takes it to the next level. A graduation almost,” Scherr said of the project.
“All the hard work and effort hasn’t been unnoticed. Garrett [Vorreuter] and some people at the Pierce Arrow [Film Arts Center] have been taking notice of what we’ve been doing, and we’re trying to focus and concentrate our efforts into channeling all the sketch humor that we’ve done, and incorporating that into a bigger platform, something that will hopefully garner a bit more attention…It’s more exposure, it’s a broader core of people…if we have a rotating cast now, it’s going to be even bigger and crazier with this show. It’s going to be ambitious but really a lot of fun,” he said.
Buffalo Sketch Comedy can be seen in two rare live performances at 9:30 p.m. this Saturday, March 28, and Saturday, April 25, at the Arena in Snyder Square. Tickets can be purchased here.