We all love to go watch Lenny Dee preform every term and laugh at the ridiculousness that the our own comedians come up with, but have you ever wondered what it takes to come up with those sketches? This is a behind the scenes look at the seven weeks of work that goes into Lenny Dee every term.
Every person that is in Lenny Dee fulfills the roles of a writer, editor and actor. There are no set writers; every person in the group is responsible for coming up with ideas for about forty sketches that are eventually weaned down to the sketches that we see on performance nights. It actually takes five of the seven weeks to come up with the sketches that will be preformed leaving the troupe only a week and a half to memorize all of their jokes and learn to deliver their jokes in a way that is endearing and does not distract from the actual sketch.
In order to do all of this is the little time before performances start Lenny Dee actually practices every night the week of the shows. A tradition that is fondly known as “hell week” because during this time when many of us are worrying about midterms the comedians are holding four to five hour practices from 8:00 p.m. until whenever the directors decide to call practices. “During hell week practice takes precedent over everything that is going on in your life no matter what that may be” said Laura Levitt a freshman who just preformed for the first time this winter.
Changes are being made up until the night before the show, and depending on audience reaction the sketches are sometimes even tweaked between performances. So going to everyone of the shows can actually be a bit different. Also the energy of the crowd can very greatly effect the type of show. Thursdays tend to bring a much calmer, and more sober, crowd because obviously most people have class the next day. But, Friday and Saturday’s shows tend to have more people and they tend to be in a better mood, which in general means that the audience laughs more, which in turn means that the actors will probably preform with more energy as well.
Although, there are directors their main job is simply to facilitate and organize. Senior director Nona Schamus said “In Lenny Dee you are working with a group of the biggest personalities on campus, which is so much fun, but it is also a lot of work to get everyone organized and focused”. The directors have only as much say on the writing and editing process as any other member in the group and there is actually a vote to see which sketches make it into the final production. So the directors main jobs are to cast the sketches and to just make sure that everyone stays focused and that everyone is working well together.
With all this work the final product is usually fun and exciting to watch, but something that most people do not think about are the many sound and lighting effects that go into the show every term. There is no professional set crew; in fact, the people that do it are not even paid. Henry Gordon and Erik Madsen-Bond have been doing the show together for three years now and the job was actually passed onto them two seniors who had been doing the show since their freshman year.
The Monday of show week every term these two come in and get to work designing the show. “They come to us with a very loose plan of what kind of lighting and music that they want and we just keep tweaking until everyone is happy with the result” says Henry. Henry and Erik are there every term but because Erik is a senior there will actually be an opening next year to be the behind the scenes of Lenny Dee.
The performance this term as usual was filled with a variety of sketches that appealed to many different senses of humor and as always incorporated the Carleton quirk that we all know and love. But now having a behind the scenes look you can really appreciate everything that Lenny Dee does all in the name of comedy entertainment.