Volume 92, Issue 89

Wednesday, March 18, 1999


The Concrete Beat

Blur's risk with 13 truns into personal success

Philly five revives The Roots of hip hop

Vivaldi revitalized for its audience

Danko Jones knows he's still on top

Ralston Saul paves way for individuality

Comedy group Laughs

Ripley's version of Welsh animal music

Celebrity sightings

Comedy group Laughs

By Mark Lewandowski
Gazette Staff

Missing one of Western's best kept secrets will probably make you blue – especially since this secret is called Laugh.

Started by third-year arts student Lee Zanello, the sketch and improv comedy group has had a couple of shows around campus in the last few months. Zanello, who has been writing comedy since high school, is the driving force behind the group and had his sketches performed on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.

"There's not a lot of comedy at Western, we need someone to bring it," Zanello feels. "Laugh is a start." The sketch comedy show mirrors The Bob, which is a traditional show in Toronto which Zanello wrote last year. His vision is of a London-based comedy troop by next year – the shows his group performed this year were more of a trial run. "We put this show together in three weeks and it was a very positive experience. We learned a lot this year," Zanello comments.

"There weren't that many people there," Zanello admits, referring to the first show in this latest string. "It was mainly [performer] Luke Rundle's family," he jokes. So what exactly is Laugh and why have the people who have seen it rave about it so?

"It's a simple concept," he responds. "It's 15 sketches, an intermission and some improv. The best advice I ever got was just to laugh and this is the sole purpose of the show. It's not to make money. It's extremely low budget, there are very minimal costumes and props."

While the purpose of the show is simply laughter, the ideas are much more complex and daring. "We push a lot of the envelopes in our sketches. We start every show off with a director's apology," Zanello divulges. The apology is for the graphic nature of some of the sketches, which after a while seems like most of the sketches. "We do some really dirty stuff, two scenes end with gay sex," Zanello exposes.

He goes on to describe a few of the other skits, the most notable being the "girlfriend sketch." A guy meets his buddies and they ask him about his girlfriend. He informs them she's a cow. Then out onto the stage walks a real cow – well, a guy in a cow costume. Crazy adventures ensue. "It's like priests and alter boys. This is not your mother's comedy," Zanello concludes.

The money issue has not been a problem this year, as the group has received help from the Arts Students' Council and University Students' Council. "There's money out there if you look for it. Laugh attests to the fact that regular students can ask for funding and put a show like this together," Zanello summarizes. It helps that sketch comedy does not need a big budget. "We are barest bones, even bare bones has more than we do," Zanello says.

Zanello says he hopes the group can one day be opened up for all of Western to enjoy, but realizes that day will have to come next year. Ultimately he hopes the group can become self-sufficient financially. While the group may not yet be a success financially, they definitely have the right idea.

"Too many people, take too many things too seriously," Zanello concludes. These are words anyone can live by.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999