The 109th Varsity Show may be over, but the jokes live on. References to "PrezBo," the Spec-tacular Spec, and various NYU jokes can still be heard around campus. By all accounts, the show this year was a success, drawing in huge numbers of students and keeping them laughing for several hours.
This being the fourth V-Show I've attended at Columbia (and my last), I've been forced to look back on the previous years' shows and remember the highlights and low points. I'm not alone in this--almost any conversation upperclassmen have about the Varsity Show invariably leads to the statement, "But it wasn't as good as that year." So what are the ingredients that make up a great Varsity Show? And which shows in recent years measure up the best?
Kim Grant, CC '03, has the answer to all of the above questions. "The Varsity Show functions best when it's a series of skits that encompass what life at Columbia is all about," she said. Her favorite show was the 106th in the Spring of 1999 because it was "less cynical" than recent efforts. She did enjoy elements of this year's show, however, particularly the bits concerning President Bollinger's fear that no students would recognize him. In essence, Grant believes the V-Show should act as "a secret cult; you have to go to Columbia to get the jokes."
Other students echoed Grant's feelings. "The best Varsity Shows are really specific about life at Columbia," said Zooey Martin, BC '03. "They refer to specific people you see around campus."
Inna Fabrikant, CC '05, attended her first Varsity Show this year, and expected the kind of specificity Martin admires. "I thought it would focus more on Columbia, maybe make fun of other Ivies," Fabrikant said.
Victor Kubicek, CC '06, is less concerned with what the show focuses on than with how the show is structured. "I like a strong plot," he said. "I don't really like musicals, so I need a strong plot to get me into it."
Of course, this being Columbia, most students can think of ways to change or fix even a tradition they approve of. "I liked the show this year a lot," said Nicole Tartak, CC '03, "but I'd like to see the cast change more from year to year. A new show should have a new cast."
Grant also came up with ways to improve on this year's show. "They should have talked about the canceling of the Intrepid Party or Van Am Jams. That was just waiting to be made fun of."
Despite these criticisms, most students enjoy the Varsity Show year after year. This attitude is typical of Columbia students, according to Grant. "At Columbia, we're critical about the school, administration, policies, but underneath a lot of students love it here, and the Varsity Show should sum up that feeling," she said.
Regardless of the specific jokes, the plot, or the music, the best Varsity Shows force us to laugh at our school and at ourselves, but also to leave the theater happy that we attend Columbia.