The Suspenders, USC’s oldest sketch comedy troupe, held their first in-person show since the start of the pandemic this past weekend. Their show, “Sketch House Rock,” held seven different performances at the Massen Theatre for their loyal audiences.
“We’re just an opportunity for USC students to hone their sketch writing skills and also create a community of people who love comedy and who love performing and writing and striving to do our best all the time,” said Ruby Marker, the director of The Suspenders. “Even if that means staying up until, like 3:00 a.m. in the theater.”
The sketch comedy troupe was founded in 2014 with one mission in mind: to create a group dedicated to having fun and following their dreams by “suspending their disbelief,” according to the troupe’s website.
To reach their mission, the group rehearsed until midnight for two weeks straight to make it come to life, according to assistant director Destinee McCaster.
J.T. Garcia is a senior studying business administration and theater who writes and performs for The Suspenders. He spoke about the challenges the group encountered since returning to campus.
“Coming out of COVID into this first show, there was a lot of stuff that we had to figure out for the first time all over again,” Garcia said. “Having not had a live show in two years, more than half the troupe had never performed a live Suspenders show before.”
Many of USC’s visual and dramatic arts clubs experienced major setbacks in switching to online platforms during the pandemic. The Suspenders, however, found success on platforms like TikTok, even surpassing 2 million total views since their account first debuted nearly a year ago.
“We exist as a writing group that tries to emulate SNL-style writers’ rooms,” Marker said. “It’s meant to try and draw as many people from as many different backgrounds as possible, because that’s how we find a lot of our comedy, from people who have different perspectives and ideas that we can play with and we can learn and we can share.”
The Suspenders’ producer Arturo Fernandez Jr. claims they are the only sketch comedy group on campus that writes a show from scratch, produces, and performs them all within the same semester.
“They are a phenomenal troupe and everyone is ridiculously funny,” Fernandez said. “I don’t know how we find everyone, but they’re so fantastic at what they do and they’re so dedicated.”
One of their video sketches, “The Engineers” parodied tampons, becoming a huge hit with their audiences, said J.T. Garcia. He also gave credit to their ending sketch, based on “Harry Potter,” for getting them the most laughs this past weekend.
“My parents were able to come all the way from Texas to see our opening show and just seeing them afterwards, I started to cry because the emotion of performing and being in front of people is so poignant and strong that I didn’t realize how much I had been missing,” Garcia said. “There’s nothing like performing in front of a live audience.”