Chocolate Cake City twists The Twilight Zone

by Beacon Staff • October 13, 2011

strongTori Bedford, Beacon Correspondent/strong

Emerson’s Chocolate Cake City (CCC) spun a web of comedic gold on Monday night, turning the classic macabre sci-fi show emThe Twilight Zone/em into a self-referential laugh parade. The 11-person sketch comedy troupe adapted several teleplays for the stage, with uproarious results.

CCC member Robbie Goodwin, a junior visual and media arts major, gleaned the idea for a humorous reimagining of the television classic from a series of staged emThe Twilight Zone/em episodes put on by a San Francisco comedy troupe he performed with last summer.

“They did a serious version,” Goodwin said. “We cut a lot of it and reworked it for the stage, adding in jokes and silly character stuff.”

The other performance had just been emThe Twilight Zone/em episodes, adapted for the stage. CCC built upon that idea, and created comedic versions of five classic episodes: “A Most Unusual Camera,” “It's a Good Life,” “Mr. Dingle the Strong,” “Little Girl Lost,” and “To Serve Man.”

“It’s what would happen if comedy people had written the episodes,” Goodwin said.

[caption id=attachment_3813708 align=aligncenter width=268 caption=Forrest Tiffany (left) took on the shows creator, Rod Serling. Allyson Chapman/Beacon Staff]a href=http://berkeleybeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/allyson2.jpgimg class=size-full wp-image-3813708 title=allyson2 src=http://berkeleybeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/allyson2.jpg alt= width=268 height=400 //a[/caption]

A week before the troupe was slated to perform at the Cabaret, they began to panic. None of their older material seemed to fit the show, and they had nothing new prepared. When Goodwin suggested his emThe Twilight Zone/em idea, his fellow comedians jumped on it. And so ensued seven, slumberless days of all-nighters.

“No sleep...ignoring all of our homework...basically we just didn't let each other out of our sight,” said junior writing, literature, and publishing major Lee Benzaquin, the group’s president. CCC members picked episodes of emThe Twilight Zone /emto review and created an edited screenplay and added jokes. Toward the end of the week, rehearsals began.

“A lot of jokes came from rehearsal. We even made up some stuff today,” member and junior visual and media arts major Maggie Monahan said on the night of the performance.

Although the preparation was last-minute, CCC didn't let it show. The tongue-in-cheek interpretations roasted the original series with witty precision and campy dialogue. Throughout the show, CCC poked fun at the sexism of the older episodes, especially with “A Most Unusual Camera”, in which a 1940s couple expresses confusion about a mysterious camera, and the wife exclaims,“I still don't understand how this damned thing works! It's because I've got a uterus for a brain!”

[caption id=attachment_3813709 align=aligncenter width=268 caption=Roger Ouellette took on Josh Groban who had no involvement with the series. Allyson Chapman/Beacon Staff]a href=http://berkeleybeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/allyson.jpgimg class=size-full wp-image-3813709 title=allyson src=http://berkeleybeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/allyson.jpg alt= width=268 height=400 //a[/caption]

In some of the most dramatic moments of the original episodes, CCC threw in some ridiculous comic relief. In the original version of “It’s a Good Life,” a monstrous child forces another child to play intense and creepy piano music. The CCC version featured senior visual and media arts major Roger Ouellette's forced Josh Groban impression. Sophomore Forrest Tiffany, wearing bushy fake eyebrows, played emThe Twilight Zone/em creator Rod Serling.

At one point, Serling is bothered by another actor who performs a monologue, claiming that he was trying to replace him. Serling reacts in a hilariously immature way, interrupting the actor, getting upset and exiting stage, and even off flipping everyone.  “Mr. Dingle the Strong” wasn’t even performed; it was just described in a misguided explanation that concluded the episode was all about how “Jesus was just a man.”

At one point, the audience became “the fourth dimension” — the actors literally climbed over audience members in search of what they had lost in the Twilight Zone. After pulling everything together in just a few days, CCC members were happy with their performance, Benzaquin said, “I’m extremely proud of everything we’ve done this past week.”

emBedford can be reached at v.e.bedford@gmail.com./em