By BETTY BASTIDAS
The cult of Michelle Obama, burgers for her husband the president and Billy Joel all became fodder on Sunday for a one-hour comedy sketch that volunteers pitched, practiced and performed in 10 hours.
Sample dialogue from the Brava Theater’s new Sunday in the Mission series:
“We stand for the right of women everywhere to plant organic gardens and to have those gardens harvested by unpaid, underage children while calling it a field trip.”
Or when Billy Joel tries to pick up a young woman who fails to recognize him, he’s forced to introduce himself and tell her that he’s recently single and back into the “ole dating season.”
“Good luck with that,” the woman says.
A new group of sketches will go through the same pitch to performance process every Sunday, according to the mastermind Jamie Mulligan, whose productions have appeared at many local theaters including the Magic Theater and the Traveling Jewish Theater.
“This is the first time that we’ve gotten a group together to make a one hour sketch show in one day,” said Mulligan after finishing the first run through of the day. “It’s crazy to even attempt doing it.”
“We are behind schedule –we should have finished 45 minutes ago,” he announced to the group two hours before show time.
The volunteers dispersed into groups to rehearse.
“To be able to instantly have stuff up on the stage and see the product of my ideas right off the bat is pretty cool and very rewarding,” said Patrick Davis, a student from Stanford University, who wrote three sketches and acted in four skits for the one-hour show.
He was one of 19 people who showed up at 10 in the morning to pitch ideas while Mulligan made on-the-spot calls up or down.
Just six hours earlier, after five sketches had been cut, actors, writers and directors work-shopped on the fourth floor with lines flying. “ You need to cut one of those parts,” “can you improv three lines,” “Verizon Commercial just got a better ending,” and “can you change thunderslide to tornado—that’s the joke we’re missing.
Sundays at the Mission is all about time, the participants said. “There is simply no time to re-write, make edits, and change characters,” said Mulligan, “if the sketch just doesn’t have time to be worked then, it just get’s cut.”
The room filled with mostly young faces didn’t mind. It was speed training and an opportunity.
“I want to get into acting primarily film acting but I would love to do mostly comedy,” said Davis. The Stanford student only started acting six months ago and writing three months ago. Already, with Sundays in the Mission, his work is onstage.
“Meet in the morning work through it all day and then have a show that evening sounded a ton of fun,” he said. “People have been responsive and work well together.”
Many said memorizing their lines presented the toughest challenge. “Its tough to learn four sketches worth of lines in a day and the biggest thing about comedy on stage- its gotta be so on cue,” said Davis.
“You have to vibe well with everyone quick otherwise it’s not going to be funny,” added Gregory Prior, a musician and street performer from Daly City. The most satisfying part of the day—all of it. “Work up my chops, working up my acting ability and throwing myself in the fire,” said Prior.
“It’s a great opportunity for sketch comedy writers and performers to have a chance to walk the walk. They talk the talk, here is the chance to walk the walk,” said Mulligan.
Mulligan and his team invited anyone with an original comedy sketch to show up on Sunday. The first week,26 people auditioned, and 19 made it. Many, however, who said they were coming flaked.
“I would love all voices from the Mission to come out,” said Mulligan.
“They say the country is run by those who show up. The comedy will be made by those who show up.”
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