“The soup of the day is chicken broth with chunks of hilarious,” stated the announcement “Pick-ups and Hiccups” performers Seth Meyers of Saturday Night Live and comedienne Jill Benjamin gave UCAB members Reid Swayze and Amy Fitzhenry to read as the show’s introduction.
The announcement proved to be a classic example of foreshadowing. For an hour and a half this past Wednesday, Mr. Meyers and Ms. Benjamin kept the audience in PBK Hall in stitches with their non-stop parody sketches of the dating world.
Mr. Meyers and Ms. Benjamin met while performing for Boom Chicago in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
“We would sit around telling each other stories of all the bad dates we’ve been on,” said Mr. Meyers, “From those stories we formed our first skit [depicting two young singles in a singles’ bar].”
From that skit grew “Pick-ups and Hiccups,” which has been performed since 1999. The show combines roughly outlined skits with audience participation, giving each performance a decidedly different feel.
Said Mr. Meyers, “We wanted to do something that would be unique, and the show is unique based on each audience.”
In one skit, Mr. Meyers depicted a love-struck fifth grader, attempting to profess his love for Ms. Benjamin underneath her window. Not knowing what to say, he had a member of the audience provide the words, culminating in the poem “you are like the sun/ that warms my heart/ like a cinnamon bun.” In another skit, the performers portray exes, who find themselves seated at the same table during a wedding reception. Each then choose a member of the audience to pretend to be their significant other, in an attempt to make the other performer jealous.
WM sophomore Amanda Waller was chosen from the crowd to portray Mr. Meyers' girlfriend.
“The only thought I had was to say something funny or else I’d look bad,” Miss Waller said after the show.
For student Charles Johnson, the audience participation was a key factor in the show’s success. “I definitely liked that they had audience participation […] it kept you on your toes because you never knew if they were going to call on you,” he said.
Closely tied to audience participation was the clear chemistry that Mr. Meyers and Ms. Benjamin displayed during their performance.
“You can only be a good team if you have chemistry, and they did,” said Gwen Gallagher. “Their chemistry was what made people feel they could yell things out without looking stupid,” added Mr. Johnson, “They were very comfortable with each other on the stage; they almost knew what each other was going to say before they said to.”
This irresistible interaction is partially responsible for Mr. Meyers’s current role on Saturday Night Live . It was during a performance of “Pick-ups and Hiccups” that a casting director from the NBC show first noticed his comedic talents as he joked with Ms. Benjamin.
While not performing on television, the talented Ms. Benjamin showcases her love for comedy in different ways. A veteran performer, she started a comedy troupe at Indiana University and has performed with both The Second City Touring Company and Boom Chicago. For her, the performance Wednesday was something of a family affair, with her mother Carolyn watching from the audience and her father David videotaping the show, to be shown later as a promotional video.
“We’re very proud of her,” said Mrs. Benjamin, beaming. “She’s always been a performer.”
As the audience members left the PBK theater Wednesday night, laughter could still be heard floating through the air. “It was hilarious,” summed up Ms. Gallagher. “They made the atmosphere so much fun.”