Athletes jockey for laughs

Goodrich was packed on Thursday night for the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) talent show, where versatile athletes lit up the stage to compete for funds to donate to a charity of their choice. The show was set up very much like American Idol, with amateurs performing for a panel of judges. Isaac Nicholson ’11 played the part of Ryan Seacrest, coordinating the acts, the judges and the audience. Thankfully, there was no drama.

Most of the acts involved music, which added to the Idol feel of the night. From a sing-along to “If You Wanna Be My Lover” by the first-year girls of the softball team to a trombone rendition of “Under the Sea” by Mary Beth Daub ’11, another softball player, there weren’t many musical stones left unturned. In fact, it was quite eye-opening to see the wealth of musical talent on campus among athletes.

For example, did you know there was a rap/funk group on campus called The Roots of Funk, a four-piece rock band? At the talent show they played songs as varied as “Party in the USA” and Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight.” Although the singing didn’t quite match Miley Cyrus’s flow, the band was very tight and managed to make both songs their own. I can’t help thinking they would have made a great substitute for this weekend’s Gym Class Heroes concert. For one thing, they’re probably cheaper, and, in my opinion, much better.

My favorite performers of the night were Ari Binder ’11 from the men’s tennis team and Chessie Jackson ’11 from the women’s basketball team. They played Bonnie Rait’s “Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About.” While Binder held down the groove of the song on guitar (a part he had learned earlier that day), Jackson’s magical vocal chords took the audience on a rollercoaster ride of awesome. But what would all this be without a little innuendo? “This song basically sums up our relationship,” Jackson said. In reality, they’re just co-JAs of the Willy D.

The show wasn’t all music – there was also a healthy dose of poetry. First came Oriana McGee ’12 from the softball team, who gave the assembled crowd a dose of Speak Free. Her poem used metaphors about the music industry to talk about relationships. Then there was Ifiok Inyang ’11 from the football team, who wrote about subjects that I think are probably very close to home for many people here, such as the effects of midterms on his life and the difficulties of rising above circumstances. However, I’m unable to do these writers justice; you should go hear them for yourself.

Balancing Binder’s and Jackson’s passion and the serious nature of spoken word, there was also an element of comedy to the show, provided by some excellent improv and unusual magic tricks. No performance can be complete without an appearance by Combo ZA, which did a news story – “It is in fact butter” – that was essentially one long fat joke with commercial breaks. With their usual ingenuity they were able to find hilarity in a limiting subject.

Felix Sun ’13, a freshman on the tennis team, promised the audience that he was the best magician in the entire state of Maryland. Though I watched him produce a deck of cards from inside his mouth, I wanted more proof. This he was eager to provide, saying that calling a random person in Maryland and asking them who was the best magician was would be enough. To ensure that the number was random he hit tennis balls into the audience and asked those who caught them to pick cards. This formed a seven-digit phone number that he got someone to call. Possibly my favorite moment of the night was when, out the hushed silence of the crowd a cell phone rang … in Felix’s pocket.

Anyway, if I were asked to describe this show in one word or less, I probably wouldn’t be able to. It was one of those things you just have to be there for. But seriously: comedy, poetry, music, magic, giving to charity, what more could you want? I would have trouble finding something to add to that list.