Hannah Connery drove to Las Vegas to film scenes for a Spring Sing comedy sketch with a 101-degree fever, coughing throughout the 12-hour video shoot.
Connery, a third-year theater student, joined the ensemble Company this year because she was allured by the prospect of writing, filming and acting in Spring Sing’s comic relief team. The 13-person comedy troupe will perform live sketches and project prerecorded videos in between the talent acts at Spring Sing.
This year, one of the sketches called for an intensive, out-of-state filming process. Set in Las Vegas, the sketch required Company members to make the 4-hour drive to the city at 5 a.m. and shoot from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., only to return the following Sunday morning.
Although Connery spent the whole day shooting with her fever, she made sure to make the most of her night in Las Vegas by going out with her fellow Company members to the Strip after filming, she said.
“We had to go out of state for the sketch, so we decided to just make a day out of it,” Connery said.
Connery was initially attracted to the comedy group when she viewed its riveting performances during Spring Sing and learned about Company. Connery laughed at the sketches throughout the night, and by the end of the event, Connery knew she had to try out for Company during her time at UCLA, she said.
One of Connery’s favorite sketches to watch during her first year was the “I Can’t Even Deal” music video from Spring Sing 2015. The music video was centered on the insignificant struggles of all Bruins, Connery said.
“(The music video) was so relevant to all of us,” Connery said. “Although it was not the only sketch that made me want to join Company, it was definitely one of them.”
“I Can’t Even Deal” was based off common plights of the average Bruin, like not getting the right sandwich at Bruin Café or having clothes dumped on the floor of the laundry room. It was an effective use of humor to bring together the experiences of UCLA students, said Jake Dvorsky, third-year theater student and member of Company.
“When I watched ‘I Can’t Even Deal’ and ‘Flight of the Walkingjay’ my freshman year, I just thought the sketches were genius and laughed so hard,” Dvorsky said. “I felt like I was watching the veterans of ‘Saturday Night Live.’”
A year after attending his first Spring Sing in 2015, Dvorsky auditioned for Company and was offered a spot after his solo audition and group callback in 2016.
The purpose of the Company application process is to gauge how well students can let go of their inhibitions and be comfortable portraying absurdity in an innovative way, said Caroline Desler, third-year human biology and society student and Company director on the Student Alumni Association’s Spring Sing committee.
“We want to avoid having one-trick ponies because we want fresh material,” Desler said.
Immediately after being accepted onto the team, Dvorsky practiced writing three scripts to adjust himself to the comedy-sketch style, which proved to be a difficult experience, he said.
“You cannot just be naturally funny,” Dvorsky said. “You have to know how to write and collaborate with others to get a sketch out.”
Dvorsky adapted to the writing style and began to find comedic inspiration in seemingly commonplace occurrences. For Spring Sing 2016, Dvorsky wrote “Hover Bruins,” a sketch about an imaginary UCLA club that races hoverboards, after seeing several athletes hoverboarding down Bruin Walk, he said.
“Hover Bruins” was Dvorsky’s first sketch that was shown at Spring Sing, making it a memorable albeit laborious process, he said. Since the sketch is based on the premise of the secret hoverboarding club meeting at night on campus, Dvorsky had to schedule rehearsal times that often spanned from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m.
Sometimes sketches turn out to be even more absurd than planned. One of this year’s sketches – which are top secret until shown at Spring Sing – required renting an animal that turned out to be even higher maintenance than they thought, Dvorsky said.
“Little did we know said animal would decide to poop and pee every two minutes on the clock,” Dvorsky said. “Factoring in time to clean up animal excrement into shooting time is just one of the bizarre things that you learn to accept being (in) Company.”
Although the ridiculousness of many of Company’s sketches require intense planning and strange settings, the sketches add laughter to one of the most unifying and enduring Bruin traditions, Connery said.
“We make these sketches out of passing thoughts we have as we go about being UCLA students,” Connery said. “The parodying and the exaggerating (are what make) audiences laugh and simultaneously be proud of being a Bruin.”