MBA students show their silly sides in 'It's Always Funny in Follydelphia'

Erin Kirkland/Daily
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BY CASSIE BALFOUR
Daily Arts Writer
Published February 3, 2011

“On a frosty, blustery day on the south end of central campus … a murder occurs,” intoned Business graduate student Matt Harms, describing the ideal start to a preview about his show.

It's Always Funny in Follydelphia


Tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m.
Michigan Theater
Tickets from $20

Harms is one of the zany writers for the Business School Follies. And if his antics are any indication, the show is going to be a hoot. However, the comedy show is currently on Quadruple Secret Lockdown — Follies shorthand for, if you want to find out what the show is all about, you’re going to have to see it yourself.

“Follies” refers to a once-a-year comedy show written, produced and performed by the very Ross MBA candidates who, in a few short years, will be dictating our economy. Until then, they’re happy just to make audiences laugh. This year's comedy show, titled “It’s Always Funny in Follydelphia,” will be performed tonight and tomorrow at the Michigan Theater and will feature live skits, singing and dancing, mixed in with some video clips. Since the humor is Ross-oriented, it could be said that the show is one big inside joke.

“The skits make fun of professors who have certain quirks, and just the MBA style of life, how we all still act like undergraduates,” said assistant director and Business graduate student Kristin Girouard. “We make fun of how the guys love undergrads, we just make fun of the daily things in life that we talk about when we’re hanging out in the Winter Garden.”

Although the jokes may be geared toward Ross students, the writers don’t want to discourage undergraduates or other members of the campus community from coming to the show. In fact, the writing staff has a personal request: that undergraduates attend.

Harms and Business graduate student Reid Tatoris, the head writer, went on to try to explain how luring unsuspecting undergraduate girls to the show would benefit the Daily and campus at large.

It’s easy to see where the Follies cull their material from.

Though undergraduates aren’t part of the show, more than half of both MBA classes are involved in some aspect of the Follies. This bonds the relatively small MBA community together even more, drawing in more Follie wannabes every year.

“We’re a relatively small community on a really big college campus … everyone is supportive and they cheer each other on,” said director and Business school graduate student Paul Bockwoldt. “A lot of the faculty members get involved with the show; this year we have about twelve staff members. Anyone who wants to be part of the show can be part of the show.”

Some may be surprised that these buttoned-up “Young Urban Professionals” would have the time or the pizazz to put on a comedy show, many MBA students use it as a creative outlet and as a way to poke fun at what Bockwoldt called “the daily monotony of Business school.”

“It’s a lot different from doing spreadsheets and reading the Wall Street Journal,” he added.

And while producer and Business School graduate student Laura Stancik said “no one should quit their day jobs” because very few members actually come from a theatrical background, it’s apparent that all it takes to make the comedy show enjoyable is a lot of dedication.

“You just have to be able to make a fool out of yourself,” Girouad said.

“A lot of singers have a background, but a lot of Business School kids don’t come from a theatrical background … weird, right?” Girouard said. “Some people come in during auditions, and you’ll ask them if they can sing and they’ll say, ‘Yeah, badly.’ So if you see the skits, people just go crazy with it, and it’s hilarious because the lack of talent is part of why it makes it so funny. People use the show as a way to break out of their shells.”

Some of the participants agree that the arts and business aren’t all that mutually exclusive after all.

“You think that business is straight-laced, and this is more arts- and creative-based, but I think increasingly in business, there is that level of creativity that people know they need to have,” Girouard said. “And this is a way to sort of get at that creativity and bring it out.”

Though they only have a month and a half to rehearse and pull the show together, everyone is in jovial spirits. And the process has had it’s fair share of — ahem — follies.

“The end of the third night ... we were exhausted after all of the auditions,” Stancik said. “We didn’t realize the camera was still rolling and we started dancing and singing ourselves, but then we saw the red light was still on. It was a great Follies moment.”