Cecily Strong proved weak at improv performance

Tyler Mead, Staff Reporter

Cecily Strong proved to have a mixed ability at Wednesday night’s show in McAlister Auditorium.

The Saturday Night Live cast member was joined by two other improv performers for an hour-and-a-half show. Strong used a mix of scripted and improvised scenes which harshly contrasted each other.

Strong clearly demonstrated a penchant for writing. Her scripted scenes delivered solid punchlines and were met with unanimous laughter from the crowd. The written characters only had a few seconds of glory before the comedienne skipped to a new one.

One of her best bits involved playing several girls, ranging from a pineapple-loving New Yorker to a girl who believes an abduction and a proposal are the same thing. Each character only got a line or two of dialogue before being wrapped. The curtness of these well-written characters, however, took away from the performance, turning thoughtful ideas into one-line gags.

Strong also included a skit where two characters who may well have been 6 or 16 years old explained how Apple Jacks got its name. The skit was repeated with similar setups, only to have a slight variant on the original punchline. There were over five punchlines to the skit, none of which could stand on their own as a solid joke.

Where Strong truly flubbed, however, was in improvisation. The last 20 minutes of the show were dedicated to improv bits that required no audience participation. They were random, forgettable and poorly executed.

When the audience was asked to participate in improv, Strong excelled. An improvised story of The Boot’s founding started the show off with genuine laughs. Two students were also called up to the stage to help fill dialogue in skits, but the performers seemed to struggle with the uncreative choices they were given.

Strong and her two associates had a clear level of chemistry forged over several years. Her female counterpart seemed to direct the creative flow of most sketches. Strong’s male counterpart only appeared on the stage for about 10 minutes total, and then only to set up lines for the women.

The show was enjoyable, but somewhat disappointing. With fellow improv masters like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, one expects a higher caliber of performance from an esteemed SNL cast member. Strong’s strength is clearly at the desk of Weekend Update.