'Bump in the Night' will put the 'ha' in Halloween
Halloween is a time for pumpkin carving, monsters and, for the group Mettlesome, sketch comedy.
The group produced a sketch show called “Bump in the Night” at the Carrboro ArtsCenter as a follow-up to its spring revue, “Two Months In." A cast of seven actors takes the stage to combine Halloween humor with social commentary.
Director Jack Reitz has been doing comedy in North Carolina since 2004, after studying it for two years in New York.
“Eventually, it was really just time for me to come home and make comedy that reflected the voice of where I come from,” he said. “I think a lot of times when people think of Southern comedy, they think about Southern comedy from the past. Mettlesome in particular is trying to be Southern comedy from the future.”
Brandon Holmes, an actor in “Bump in the Night,” echoed Reitz’s excitement about North Carolina comedy.
“In the Triangle in particular, there’s a lot of great improv happening, and there’s a lot of stand-up all around," he said. "I think a lot of people think, ‘Oh, I want to be the best. I need to aim for 'SNL,'’ but there’s no way that can happen until you get connected here on the grassroots level.”
Producing sketch comedy locally allows for a cast with diverse backgrounds. Jessalyn Carpino, for example, is a teacher who uses theater as an outlet.
“While 'Bump in the Night' is taking a lot of effort and energy, it feels really natural," she said. "It’s sort of like a stress reliever after I’m with kids all day, and I get to go rehearse and do some comedy and laugh."
Each member of the cast plays several characters in the show. The roles will range from Halloween-themed monsters, like werewolves and sea creatures, to everyday people in absurd scenarios.
“Since this is Halloween-themed, there’s a lot of really quirky, fun, campy, spooky characters,” Carpino said.
Even though the show is focused on Halloween, “Bump in the Night” includes a layer of political commentary.
“I think comedy in general, kind of across the country, is having kind of a difficult time coming to terms with the political climate that we’re in,” Holmes said. “And I know we’re not 'SNL,' but I do think the show does a pretty good job of addressing that.”
Reitz believes that political comedy can be an escape for the audience.
“You know, one of the big ways to take power away from the things that scare us is to laugh at them — whether it’s the monster under the bed or the monster in the North Carolina General Assembly,” he said.
“Bump in the Night” is a collaborative effort with a variety of contributors. The scripts began in a writers’ room and then went to the actors for another round of edits.
“The show’s been constantly evolving,” Reitz said. “And it’s alive, just like Frankenstein. It’s alive in that we are constantly making discoveries together as a group to make the show as fun and funny as it can be.”
The show ran in Carrboro Oct. 13 and 14 and will run again on Oct. 20 and 21. All the shows start at 8 p.m. and consist of 21 short comedy sketches.
“I would encourage people to come out," Carpino said, "because there aren’t a lot of strings attached — you’re going to have fun, you’re going to laugh and enjoy yourself, but it’s cool that there are also other issues that are brought up that are really important to talk about in today’s society.”
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