‘Gaieties’ brings the laughs with doomsday drama
Full disclosure: A Stanford girl and a Cal guy kiss through Skype, and then it’s your typical body swap story. Except this is far more than your typical “Freaky Friday” variation; in fact, the only thing typical about the 2012 Gaieties incarnation, “Full Doom on the Quad” is its reliable delivery of good laughs, quirky characters and its adeptness at not only tearing down our rival school for their dirtiness and bad weather, but making us laugh at our own oft ridiculous campus culture through self-referential jokes.
With campus-relevant jabs at everything from our vocabulary of acronyms to the fallibility of Axess and the overzealousness of RAs and PHEs, Gaieties plays like an extended and dramatized “Shit Stanford Students Say” video, without talking too much shit at Stanford. The Stanford characters satirize the stereotypes you’ll encounter on any given day in the smelly CoHo, from rich-betch-with- intelligence to entrepreneurial-dipwad to free-spirit-hippie. And even the health center gets a few knocks with Devon Warshaw’s ‘16 cross-dressing nurse. In a Halloween-style nurse uniform (read: short), Warshaw interprets student maladies in a matter of seconds. “Let me look in your mouth—you have mono. Let me see your hand—You’re pregnant!” he announces to stunned students.
Beyond the endless jokes and recognizable cultural icons, “Full Doom on the Quad” tells the story of the Stanford-Cal rivalry and a nerd couple caught in the crossfire. Star-crossed lovers, Stanford’s Martine and Berkeley’s Philip, meet and carry on their romance over the internet until the fateful body swap places them in their beloved’s own school; for Philip-in-Martine it’s in the happiest place on earth and for Martine-in-Philip it’s in the gloomy East Bay.
Martine, played by Nora Tjossem ‘15, is the perfect brand of awkward, from her tendency to narrate her life in the third person to her obsession with World of Warcraft. Not helping her cool factor are her parents, the quintessential Stanford groupies, charging in every few scenes for some parental smothering and hilarious lines by April Gregory ‘13, and Louis McWilliams ‘16.
The post-body-swap drama follows an insidious plan led by Cal faculty member Yudolf and a host of strange Berkeley types—a pregnant lady, pseudointellectual James Franco, and a stoner bro—to infiltrate Stanford and turn it into hell (read: reinstate IHUM and model every building after the architecture of Meyer library). Austin Caldwell ‘15, plays the soviet caricature of Yudof with unerring energy, comic timing and a hilariously strong accent.
When Yudof, with the reluctant help of Martine-in-Philip’s-body and the Cal villains, takes over Stanford, it becomes a race against the full moon countdown clock for the Stanford heroes, including Condi Rice, to free Stanford from its rival’s occupation.
With a well-designed set that successfully incorporates videos into the production, Gaieties displays the talent and creativity of the cast and crew through a vibrant celebration of Stanford and all we have to value and protect, against all enemies. 101 years after the original production of Gaieties, Gaieties 2012 is just the hilarious school-spirited romp that the Big Game tradition is meant to be.