When the world moves online, Babyboy Comedy improvises

Hamilton isn’t the only stage show that has recently been adapted for the screen. Babyboy Comedy, an improv event created by UBC students Erin Purghart and Liam McCulley, premiered July 4 on Twitch (and, by extension, in our living rooms).

The show featured sketch comedy routines and improvisations by members of UBC Improv who, in spite of the obstacles, chose to heed the golden rule of improv: always say ‘yes.’

Despite causing some ‘I’m in the wrong lecture' type anxiety about choosing the wrong link, the online format allowed audience members to avoid the lineups and the seat-saving power struggles of a traditional UBC Improv show. The live stream started before the show began, which felt like a glimpse into being backstage with the cast. One of the cast members excitedly whispered, “36 viewers.”

The show’s creators adapted both the content and structure of the show to capitalize on recent culture’s COVID-created quirks. In one sketch, a face-masked couple’s blind date, much like the pandemic itself, appears to drag on forever. Other scenes speculated, ‘Is COVID-19 a feminist?'

In lieu of curtains, cardboard signs playfully bobbed in front of the camera to transition between sketches. The cast also served as their own laugh track, reacting to one another’s scenes as if welcoming the audience to take part in the antics of a particularly funny group of friends. This likely benefited the performers as well: how else could they figure out whether any of it was funny? Future shows could further engage the audience by asking for scene ideas in the comment section.

Now that Babyboy Comedy has found a viable alternative to in-person shows, will they be back? Co-creator Liam McCulley ended the live stream with some noncommittal words of hope: “I know it said this was the last episode … but we might do this again. We’ll see.”

The show is available to watch online.