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Charles Dicken's Great! Expectations. - A DCH Sketch Revue

10649706_754258354815_8449199643302227645_nThe newest DCH sketch revue, Charles Dicken's Great! Expectations, premieres this Thursday, September 4th at 8PM.  This sketch revue is the first revue created and performed entirely by students who have gone through the sketch program. Nick Scott, who taught this group for every level and directed the show, took the time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about the show, the sketch program, and the difference between improv and sketch. (Full disclosure: I am a writer of and performer in this sketch revue.)

How is this revue different from the earlier sketch showcases? The sketch showcases were just a selection of funny sketches written within those levels. They weren't connected thematically or narratively. A sketch revue is a full show that includes sketches, musical pieces, and monologue elements that are brought together to serve a specific theme or idea. You get to both laugh (hopefully) and think (hopefully).

What can you tell us about the show? The show is an exploration of what happens when we have big expectations about life that aren't met, and the ways that we cope with that disappointment. Also there is a Millard Fillmore joke. It's a culmination of everything the students have learned in the DCH Sketch Program. All the elements they have learned from week one of level one on are in the show in some way.

How is sketch different from improv? Improv is raw and in the moment. You can refine your personal improv skill set, but you don't get to refine specific scenes. You also get a lot of leeway and added laughs from the fact that the audience knows that you are making it up on the spot.

Sketch is refined and prepared. You take that initial scene, find out what the beats are, tighten up the dialogue and action, and work on the performances to make it just right. The audience expects something more polished and refined since you're had time to work out all the kinks, whereas they might laugh at those very kinks if they were in an improv show. There is a more discerning attitude in sketch.

In improv, what you throw out there is the end product, so when someone throws out an idea, everyone else's job is to make that idea as successful as possible. In sketch you do that when you first run the idea, but then you have to be able to sit back and say, "Well this move should've have been done this way," or "This idea probably wasn't the best to begin with."

You've been with the current sketch group since level one. How have you seen them grow over the levels, and what challenges have you faced taking a group of improvisers and turning them into a sketch troupe? The biggest way I've seen them grow is in their performances. Not just within sketch. I've watched them in improv shows over the past 6 months or so, and I've seen them play much more confidently and get to ideas much faster. I think that's something sketch does, because you are forced to do the same scene over and over, and you can actually dig into a character. The more you do that, the more you're able to access it quickly, which shows up in both sketch and improv.

I've also seen them get a better grasp on what will and what won't work on stage. They might not even realize it, but their pitches and ideas have become much clearer and easier to work with as they're progressed. Getting improvisers to do the same thing over and over can be tough. The scenes lose that initial, on-the-spot energy. And it can feel like work rather than play. Getting a group of improvisers to adjust to that and still find their ability to play and enjoy the scenes can be tricky.

What have been some of your favorite sketches or monologues from this group? The Too-Tight T-Shirt Guy? The Neighbors Who Share A Love Deeper Than Food? The Whale Scene With the Guy Who Makes All the Black Fish References? Hmm. None of those really impressed me. Actually my favorite sketch is one that we never found a place for. It's about this guy, who finds out he is adopted ... And his mom is really hot.

That sounds like a winner! Anything else you want to say about the show? Yeah, it'll humor the Dicken out of you! ... I'm sorry.

Oh, boy. We really can't end like that. How is this revue different from the earlier sketch showcases? It will revue the Dicken out of you!

Charles Dicken's Great Expectations runs Thursdays in September at 8PM. Get your tickets here.

#Ashtag Week 4: We've All Eaten Bugs

Let's jump right into what you've been waiting all week for: I have been playing Kim Kardashian:Hollywood on my phone. It's terrible. Honestly. But I cannot stop. I am at war with this game. First of all, I refuse to spend any actual money on it. Have I watched video ads to earn money and/or energy in the game? Yes. Have I downloaded other apps and/or games to earn money and/or energy in the game? Yes. Have I spent any real life, real world money? No. Kim Kardashian, you may take my time, but you cannot have my money. Okay, look, I'm a fairly dudely chick in most aspects of my life. Most people that know me will attest that to be true. But I enjoy make-up and hair and all of that razzamatazz. I'll admit it: I enjoy buying clothes and dressing my stupid avatar up in this game. I do not enjoy that whatever hair color choice you make is also assigned to the brows. Blonde hair must be accompanied by yellow brows. So my avatar is brunette. The game consists of doing appearances and photo shoots to earn points, stars, and money to make your way up from the E-list of celebritydom. You must have energy to earn. I was recently given a tip by a real-life pal who had ascended all the way to the A-list, without spending real life-money. And with his tip, I've made it to the C-list. Now that I've written this paragraph, I feel like I'm free to stop playing. But I'm not gonna. I'm gonna keep on playing; for I almost have enough money to buy my second home in Miami. Gotta level up so I can buy a new purse!

One of this week's top viewed videos on YouTube is titled "Teens React to Saved By The Bell (25th Anniversary)," and just like last week's videos, the title spells out exactly what happens here. This video includes guest teen, Maisie Williams, who plays Arya on Game of Thrones. She made a sad faced reaction to the infamous "I'm so excited, I'm so scared" Jesse Spano clip. She also chose Zack Morris over A.C. Slater. Arya picking Zack Morris is a sweet victory for child me. This was a hotly contested debate between my little sister and me back in 1994. She was always a fan of A.C. Slater, and she was always wrong. Arya Stark says so.

A battle that will never be truly settled…A.C. Slater vs Zach Morris.

The top hashtag this week comes from the UK: #mtvhottest, which is a voting system to determine this summer's hottest star. One Direction is currently in the lead with Demi Lovato and Lady Gaga duking it out to be the top lady. I know of some Lady Gaga tunes. I even know some lyrics. And I've heard of Demi Lovato. While I've heard of One Direction, I could not identify a song for you. I'm certain that I've heard one, just as I'm sure that I've accidentally eaten a lot of bugs in my life.

I just went over to YouTube to search for One Direction's top song, and then watched "What Makes You Beautiful." For the first thirty seconds, I did not recognize it. I cheerily thought to myself, "maybe this means I haven't eaten bugs after all." Then the chorus chimed in and I knew the tune. I guess we all know what that means: bugs.

To end on a somber note, Robin Williams is unfortunately a top search due to his untimely passing. The man had such an incredible impact on so many of our lives. Even at his most silly and hyperactive, he exposed such a vulnerable side of himself. I recently watched Terry Gilliam's The Fisher King starring Williams and Jeff Bridges. It made me cry, but it also left me pretty happy and hopeful. It's streaming on Netflix and I recommend it, if you're watching Robin Williams' flicks this week to memorialize him. Though, maybe the best way to honor him is to remember that everyone struggles; no matter how brave a face they put on for the rest of the world. Be kind and remember that you're not alone.

Ashley Bright is a graduate of the improv program at the DCH Training Center and a level 2 sketch writing student. She's an intern for the DCH blog and can be seen performing at DCH every weekend.