Hari Kondabolu '04 didn't expect much from Nikolai von Keller, Tony Handel, Kariyushi Rao, Adam Paltrineri and Dan Yingst.
When he enlisted the five first years at the beginning of last semester to make sketches for his comedy show, Laugh Out Loud, he "thought they would be 'okay,' at best."
As the semester progressed, however, the group, which called itself Ironic T-Shirt, became increasingly devoted to the work.
"They got good," said Kondabolu. "Their sketches were funny and offbeat and they had a passion to make more."
After Laugh Out Loud discontinued last semester, the group decided to create its own sketch comedy show, having begun to write longer sketches independently during Laugh Out Loud's tenure.
Ironic T-Shirt will condense two semesters' work into a half-hour show on Thursday, April 22 at 8:00 p.m. in Smith Auditorium. The group plans to show five to six original sketches along with a few commercials from Laugh Out Loud. Following the premiere, the sketches will be shown on the Bowdoin Cable Network.
Perhaps what has allowed Ironic T-Shirt to create such a strong body of work is the respect members have for each other. "The best part of their group," said Kondabolu, "is the fact they are all friends and legitimately like each other, which is the only way to make good comedy. You need to like and respect the people you are working with and trust their instincts."
Natural ability and previous experience have also been important for the group. During high school, Yingst was a member of an improvisational troupe, and von Keller wrote comedy sketches. Rao was active in theater, debate, and documentary filmmaking. Paltrineri and Handel, like the other members of the group, were both "funny kids back in high school," according to von Keller.
The members pool their collective talent to write, film, and edit the sketches, which takes place outside of the group's regular twice-a-week brainstorming sessions. According to Rao, a sketch can be completed in as little as two hours or as much as three weeks, depending on its complexity.
While von Keller does the most writing and Yingst is the primary editor, all members play a role in the creative process.
"We pretty much have the same sense of humor," said Rao, who doesn't feel she's treated any differently as Ironic T-Shirt's only female member. "They used to ask me, 'What's the girl's perspective on this?' but they stopped because they realized that I don't know what that is."
In addition to planning the April 22 show, the group is currently developing commercials for Information Technology to be shown on BCN, and is interested in creating commercials for other Bowdoin organizations. Yingst would like to release a DVD of the group's work by the end of this semester.
Ironic T-Shirt will continue to work together next year, having already written a number of sketches that could not be filmed this semester due to time constraints. It has no plans to add new members, preferring to remain a dedicated group that works well together.
"Their growth over a year has been amazing," Kondabolu said, "and I can't even imagine what they will be like in three years."