This year, the HLS Parody featured two major changes from previous years-it ran a reasonable length, clocking in at about two hours and fifteen minutes-and it did not feature the infamous clown that has popped up at the end of each parody show in years past. These changes should remain a permanent feature of future Parody shows.
For those unfamiliar with Parody shows from previous years, the aforementioned clown would be an actor or actress who would walk among the audience in full clown regalia, singling out students for personal ridicule that often involved intimate details about the person. Further making the situation uncomfortable was the fact that since the clown came out at the end of the show, former Dean Robert Clark was often on stage at the same time that the clown was making these comments, giving an odd sense of implicit official approval to the meanness spilling forth from the clown’s mouth. Now, there are certainly fine pieces of drama that are meant to challenge an audience by making it feel uncomfortable. But, for a student produced parody show, making the audience squirm while a fellow student was embarrassed tended to erode the humor and charm of an evening otherwise spent making fun of all things HLS with a sense of humor rather than a spirit of vindictiveness.
As to the length, in years past the show has astoundingly run over the three hours mark. This for a student-produced show featuring a student cast meant not only exhausting scenes that often lacked focus but also an exhaustion of the audience’s patience. There is a reason most comedies (both theatrical and cinematic) run under two hours and that’s because humor is best served in small doses in order to maintain the laughs for the duration of a show. While two hours and fifteen minutes is still longer than most comedies, it is certainly a vast improvement over the 2003 parody “The Lord of the Briefs” that took its name from The Lord of the Rings films and lasted nearly as long as one of those films.
Also worthy of note was the talented cast gracing the production. From the marvelous depiction of Ali-G by Edmond Rhys Jones down to the stage dancers, the show was a fine example of the many talents HLS students have–the Parody reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously, but it also reminds us to let our creativity out once in a while.