Treestyle turns a new leaf in student improv comedy

New improv group Treestyle, shown in a promotional photo, had its first performance Thursday. Photo courtesy of Bill Zito
New improv group Treestyle, shown in a promotional photo, had its first performance Thursday. Photo courtesy of Bill Zito

Last Thursday, Treestyle, a new improvisational comedy group on campus, performed its first and last show of the 2014-2015 school year. Earlier this semester, Scott Daniel ’17 and Jonah Levine ’17 created the group as an alternative to Combo Za, previously the College’s only improvisational comedy group.

The show opened with “Anti-Freeze,” a game that begins with the group members asking the audience for a word. They then used this word as a jumping-off point from which to perform a scene. Each scene after that was set chronologically before the previous scene: basically, each new scene occurred “before” the preceding one. Treestyle ultimately chose the word “Starburst” from a number of options contributed by the audience. What followed was a scene in which Daniel and Jack Scaletta ’18 pretended to chop down a tree, which quickly developed into a sketch about the environment and industrialization. Although the subject matter was a somewhat serious one, the group still managed to leave the audience shrieking with laughter.

After a few more Starburst-related skits, the group transitioned easily into the next segment of its show, which was dubbed “Dear Darla.” The game was a spin-off of an advice column, with one Treestyler stepping forward and “reading” a letter addressed to Darla, the advice columnist; the next Treestyler would assume the role of Darla and respond to the letter, making up a name for the letter-writer. For example, Jonah Levy ’18 “read” a letter in which he expressed concern for the fact that his father was upset with him for spreading peanut butter all over his iPad. Melissa Caplen ’17, acting as Darla, began her “response” to Levy with, “Dear Abandoned,” causing the audience to burst into peals of laughter.

Next, Treestyle asked the audience for another word, ultimately deciding to use “celery” out of the several suggestions offered. A few members of the group stepped forward one by one, telling stories inspired by the word “celery.” Clyde Engle ’15 told a particularly amusing story about his sister’s first boyfriend and a prank he and his cousins pulled on him involving a salad, chopped-up laxatives and a distended bowel. After a few stories, the group moved into a sketch inspired by “celery.” One of the highlights featured Engle posing as Caplen’s long-lost brother to attempt to acquire evidence about the family’s supposedly unconscionable use of generators.

After the celery sketch, Rob Hefferon ’18 stepped forward to introduce a new game, called “Television.” Hefferon asked for the name of a television show, real or fake, from the audience; he chose “Breaking Bad” from the suggestions. He then began to “watch” different versions of “Breaking Bad,” which were various skits featuring members of Treestyle. The crowd favorite starred Scaletta, playing the popular boy at a suburban high school and Fatima Anaza ’18, the mysterious newcomer asked out on a date by Scaletta’s character. The audience was doubled over in laughter when Erin Hanson ’18 entered the scene as Scaletta’s ex-girlfriend, whom he described as “a real witch”: Cho Chang.

The final sketch game was entitled “People Meet,” which Daniel explained was a website much like or ChristianMingle. He asked the audience for a word describing a type of person, and selected “cowboy” from the jumble of voices offering suggestions. Members of Treestyle then stepped into the center of the semi-circle, either in a pair or alone, and threw out a one-liner that a cowboy on “Cowboy Meet” would use to find a date. After a few rounds of this, Treestyle asked for another word, this time choosing “porn star” from the audience’s proposals. As one would imagine, this particular category lent itself nicely to many groan-worthy one-liners that could appear on “Porn Star Meet.” For the group’s last word, they elected to use “Williams College student” as the category. Daniel ended the show on a high note with a one-liner all students at the College could appreciate: “I’m well-endowed.”

Altogether, Treestyle performed an entertaining and enjoyable inaugural show, leaf-ing us all excited to see what the budding group will do next year.