Archive for the ‘Performances’ Category

The Club of Jolly and Resourceful (2000 season)

Posted on the May 11th, 2000 under Comedy,KVN,Performances by

I will refer the uninitiated to my description of the competitive comedy theater russians call КВН in my original post in this category.  In this post, I would simply like to remind everyone that the BU team kicked major butt in 2000 and won the first place in the American league.  We played against two other teams:  “Olympic” of New York and “Pirates” from Seattle. See the jubilant photos below.

I actually uploaded the video of our entire final game to YouTube,  and you can see the whole series in 10-minute intervals by clicking here:  American League КВН, final game of 2000

Introducing ourselves to the audience

Celebrating our awards onstage

Granma, Red Riding Hood, and the Wolf

Misha gets force-fed by his mom

How about that eggplant salad, folks?

Ad for the game in the local Russian periodical

The Club of The Jolly and Resourceful

Posted on the May 7th, 1998 under Comedy,KVN,Performances by

How can KVN stand for The Club of The Jolly and Resourceful?  Well, it can, if it is transliterated from Russian:  КВН stands for “Клуб Веселых и Находчивых.”  It is a Russian collegiate cultural tradition that began in the 1960s.  It is a game of competitive comedy played by teams, each typically representing a college or a town.  Each game follows a theme (such as Medicine, Politics or Gambling), consists of  performance numbers, and is judged by humorists and cultural celebrities.  The performance numbers are typically a blend of jokes, song and dance, and improvisation.  The game was really big in the Soviet Union and continues to be popular in Russia, with regular broadcasts on central television channels.  KVN also follows a tournament structure, with qualifying rounds, 1/8th, quarter-, semi- and finals that determine the year’s champions.

In the late 1990s, KVN has crossed over the Atlantic ocean together with immigrants from the former Soviet Union.  It first appeared in Boston, with student teams from MIT, Harvard, New York, Boston University, Berkeley etc. squaring off against each other in on-campus auditoriums.  Since then, it has seen a tremendous rise in popularity, attracting tens of thousands of fans, followed by a lull during the economically unstable 2000’s. The American KaBH league is currently dormant, and I fear the days of brilliant teams from MIT, Harvard, Berkeley and Brandeis may never return.

This ain’t your father’s stale comedy. КVN is as dynamic and powerful as comedy can get, and that is why the tickets are sold out months before the competition takes place no matter how large an auditorium is rented. It is also a big cultural celebration for Russian emigres, and a chance to reconnect with the community.

I played on the Boston University KVN team for about four years, and it was so much fun. KVN is hard work. For every competitive event, the writers have to write a funny script, which turned out to be damned difficult to do. Then, the director and the actors on the team have to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse; for two months, three times a week, in four-hour sessions. This level of commitment requires minor and sometimes major sacrifices, but usually the rehearsals and the ongoing contributions to the evolving script make it a lot of fun. And when, after sleepless months and exhausting rehearsals, you stand before the bright lights and thousands of people, and deliver silly jokes that shatter the auditorium with avalanches of laughter, it all seems well worth it. Not to mention the after-game parties, famous for their shenanigans.

None of us were professional actors or comedians, but all of us certainly got a lot better in the process.

These pictures are taken during the final rehearsal on the 4th of April, 1998, just before the finals of 1998. We were about to play in the year’s final game against the “Gangsters of Chicago,” “Ladies of New York” and the Harvard University team. For those fluent in Russian and attuned to jokes tailored to a Russiant immigrant community, I also include a link to the full recording of the game.

Video of the American League KVN Final Game of 1998 (4:33, Russian)

BU KVN team in 1998

Good times

Misha, me and Max

Lodrion, Leonich and Misha after a crazy three-hour long rehearsal

Me, Misha and Arthur picking work assignments in prison