Maryland Night Live celebrated its 10th show by throwing a “birthday party” and delivering a night of clever skits, groovy jazz and lots of laughs Saturday night.
After more than a month of planning and rehearsing, the organization hosted its show in Stamp Student Union. Maryland Night Live is set up similarly to the show Saturday Night Live, in which there is a mix of short sketches, premade video sketches, stand-up performers, musical guests, a “weekend update” style sketch — cleverly named “UMD Alerts” — and a band to help transition between each scene.
The show kicked off with a brief sketch and a premade video of opening credits introducing the cast while the band played. The host Philip Mallin, a senior Chinese and computer science major, delivered an opening monologue, cracked a few jokes and prepared the audience for the rest of the show.
“It’s [MNL], a culmination of weeks of effort from students, and I just hope people are going to see us having fun and be like, ‘oh, I could have fun, too,’” Mallin said.
From an audience perspective, we certainly had fun. Each sketch pulled together aspects of college life specific to the University of Maryland student experience as well as Generation Z culture and current events. There were recurring themes within each bit that tied the entire show together, such as graphics of various objects exploding or other references to previous sketches.
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The nearly two-hour show seemed to fly by, leaving the audience cheering for more. There was a healthy balance of quick wit and slow burn bits. MNL also allows a space for aspiring stand-up comedians to showcase their material.
“MNL is like a full production,” said Rithik Sebastian, a senior computer science and mathematics major and sketch actor. “It feels so professional.”
Season 10 of MNL has been in production since the middle of January. Considering how polished the show was, it was surprising to learn Season 10 has only been in production for about a month.
“We put this all together, this amazing band, all these sketches and the video sketches — everything comes together and it’s really cool … I’m so glad that I got to do it,” Sebastian said. This was his second and final MNL production.
Peter Kim, the first musical guest who graduated in 2022, sang a beautiful rendition of “Glimpse of Us” by Joji, and the second musical guest, senior cell biology and genetics major Lulu Jameson, sang an original song. Jameson was just as funny and personable — in both her lyrics and personality — as the rest of the sketch actors, so her music perfectly complemented the show. Both artists are incredibly strong vocalists and musicians; it was a joy to hear them sing.
But the band truly stole the show. From Bruno Mars’ “Runaway Baby” and Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” to The Pink Panther theme and The Home Depot Beat, their jazzy renditions of popular songs were the highlight of my night.
Bassist Henry Sheppard, a sophomore economics and jazz guitar performance major, played in his second MNL.
“Second time around, I think we all had the songs a lot more practiced,” Sheppard said. “It’s a great experience … it’s also just fun to get to play with a lot of people who I already know from bands at [The Clarice], but also nonmajors who I wouldn’t otherwise be able to play with.”
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The band members, who were sitting on stage behind the actors, were just as entertained by the sketches as the audience.
The level of professionalism in the production was apparent and highly impressive; it felt like I was at an actual taping of Saturday Night Live. This student-run production was funny, entertaining and very well put together.
There was a technological issue with one of the videos, but the tech crew was able to promptly fix it, and it even added to the hilarity of the whole sketch. It is obvious each member of this production put a great deal of time and effort into their show, and it truly paid off. It’s also clear everyone on stage or behind the scenes was having fun, which in turn created an environment for the audience to have just as much fun.
Overall, MNL Season 10 was an enjoyable success for both the audience and everyone involved, and I can’t wait to see what they do next in future seasons.