BYOJ Brings the Juice to Players’ Theatre

If there is one word to describe Bring Your Own Juice (BYOJ), it’s ‘goofy.’ Heartfelt and fun, the sketch comedy show melds together the humour of dysfunctional families with absurd sound cues for a series of rapid-fire sketches.

This year’s production, produced by Players’ Theatre, strays far away from McGill-oriented comedy, instead setting its humour outside the traditional campus setting. The press preview featured five of the most well-rehearsed sketches, none of which included college-aged characters. It’s an unexpected but refreshing formula, as it gives a different spin on comedy whose primary audience is students. Rather than being at the expense of McGill’s campus and pupils, the humour draws its audience away from school and into a series of wacky, fabricated realities.

In that respect, the tone of the show is almost improvisational, with specific themes attached to each sketch. In most cases, the sketches aim for situational humor rather than building up to a final punchline, making for informal and diversified comedy.

If there is any overarching theme to the show, it’s family. Three of the five sketches presented at the press preview featured familial relationships, yet each presented these relationships in a different manner. The sketches feature characters drawn to the extent of their clichés—from a jock and his emo brother, to Chad, the skateboarding partier. Even if these are familiar tropes, the show puts them to good use: the emo brother is attracted to his own mother, and Chad is, well, a ghost. These twists to well-known humour add a fresh feeling to something that everyone already knows.

The acting is superb—everyone in the show does an extraordinary job at bringing personality to these extreme characters. Even if some dialogue doesn’t land properly, the acting keeps it fun to watch. Harry Turner, who directed and stars in the show, also starred in The University, produced by TVM, a short that, like BYOJ’s new production, uses its characters to get the most out of its humour. If you enjoyed The University, you’ll also enjoy Bring Your Own Juice. Yet even if the tone of the TVM short and the new show are similar, the two diverge in their pacing.

As soon as you feel you’re settled into a sketch, a series of punchlines will hit, the lights will fade, and the set will be moved around and filled with new characters. As soon as their point is driven, the sketches end—exactly the type of tone that sketch comedy is made for. The show flies by, and as each sketch passes, you’ll be thinking about what could come next until, of course, the production comes to an abrupt close.

The hidden gem of the show, by far, is its sound cues. Every audio byte is perfectly chosen to accompany skits. Even the intermission music between sketches is brilliant—after a sketch about Chili’s Bar & Grill, comes a song about Chili’s baby-back ribs. During the sketch about partying ghosts there’s no shortage of airhorns. It’s fun and goofy, letting the show play off its comedy as less-than-serious while at the same time giving little sound clips to form the backbone of a joke, or, in the case of the Chili’s song, add humour where their might otherwise be silence.

Bring Your Own Juice is a solid way to spend a weekend night. It’s a fun show, paced at just the right tempo to keep everyone engaged and laughing throughout its entirety. Written, produced, and directed entirely by McGill students, the show also represents a forum for some home-grown comedy. Of course, at the end of the night, the goofiness is well worth the $6 ticket price.

Bring Your Own Juice Runs from March 16- March 18th at Players’ Theatre in SSMU. Tickets are $6 for Students, $10 for General Admission.

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