Gale Force Laughter
The Harvard Sailing Team slays them with slow, sad pelvic thrusts

Saturday Night Live wishes it was as funny as the Harvard Sailing Team. From their slow-motion introduction, set to the theme song from Step by Step, to their slow-motion outro to Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” their hour-long show of a dozen or so vignettes never sails into irons (that’s sailing lingo for never losing momentum).
Comics have to walk a thin line — go with improv and your ass is on the line if the crowd doesn’t laugh; roll with a script and you better keep it fresh.
HST chooses the latter, perfecting every moment of their sketches down to the flawlessly-synchronized sound effects integral to what’s happening on stage. Although nine comedians sail the boat, often all on stage at the same time, there’s a talented tenth member handling their music, a key component of the show.
Although a comedy troupe, the team is comprised of talented singers, dancers, and choreographers. At one point, a (polo-shirt clad) gang creeps onto stage, snapping their fingers in an entrance set to music from A West Side Story. From the opposite side, the Latino gang enters, evidenced by the “eye-yi-yi-yi” as they confront each other. Before the rumble begins, the leaders make the connection that there’s been a miscommunication. The “Comfy Hammocks” were supposed to meet the Sharks, but one of them had it wrong in his day planner. They arrange to meet back at nine.
Everything about the show is random, as sketch comedy should be. At a cocktail party sketch, hand shakes are replaced by a greeting that includes pelvic thrusts. Apart from that, the conversation and actions are typical and mundane. By the time nine people are mingling on stage, thrusting their groins at each other, all of Theater 99 is in tears. Imagine the reaction when the theme is repeated later on, at a funeral.
At the core of HST’s show is a genius script. Segments like an adoption interview where the prospective parents appear to be foreign (“What names have you considered?” “Miden. Proflac. Gerald.”) avoid foul language, all the while remaining fluidly random.
On top of that base is a cast of performers with no weak links, each of whom could find side work in a chorus or dance troupe. In a scene where kids play with human marionettes, the puppets can’t see where the people above them are moving the strings, yet they somehow synchronize perfectly, along with a constant stream of sound effects through the PA. The hours of practice put in by Harvard Sailing Team were well-worth it. They’ve got the double entente of a polished, quality act that’s laugh-out-loud hilarious.

Harvard Sailing Team • Piccolo Spoleto’s Piccolo Fringe Series • $15 • (1 hour) • May 28 at 8 p.m.; May 29 at 9 p.m.; May 30 at 7 p.m.; May 31 at 6 p.m. • Theatre 99, 280 Meeting St. • 853-6687