Binghamton Night Live’s (BNL) 11th edition “BNL Tota11y Live!” proves that laughter is always the best medicine. Coming from the Hinman Production Company (HPC), BNL’s newest installment took place at the Hinman Commons at Binghamton University on Oct. 7 through Oct. 9 at 8 p.m. Due to the immense popularity, HPC added a fourth night on Oct. 10. The show was co-directed by Lorin Miller, a senior double-majoring in English and Italian, and Julia Rakus, a senior majoring in theatre, and stage-managed by R.J. Fox, a senior double-majoring in theatre and economics in the MBA program, featuring 14 sketches overall.
On the breezy night of Oct. 8, BNL sold out with around 90 people showing up. The show began with an opening akin to “Saturday Night Live” where all of the cast members appear with a booming voice announcing their names overhead. Miller and Rakus came out for an opening monologue to welcome the audience and ensure them the entire cast has been vaccinated with zero cases of COVID-19.
The show began with a sketch of parents that seem to be from Long Island who curse their children with “mild awkwardness.” Multiple of the actors used wild accents in a tone that gave off Halloween vibes. The use of thunderous sound effects and spooky lighting showed how all the different aspects of the production came together. The third sketch focused on something a lot of BU students complain about: the Dunkin’ line in the University Union. A shocking sketch called “Squeak You!” involved Remy from the Pixar film “Ratatouille” arguing with Linguini. The concept revolves around Remy being a stoner and a slacker after the end of the movie, using the word “squeak” instead of normal profanity. It ends with the pair resolving their issues until a girl runs by looking disheveled. Ethan Conner, the actor playing Linguini and a junior majoring in mathematics, delivers the final punch line.
“Ratatouille, did you squeak my girlfriend?” Conner said.
The fifth scene received one of the biggest reactions of the night. A priest explains a story of Lil Nas X on his way to heaven, waiting for acceptance, but he must beat Jesus in a “twerk-off” to gain his wings. Chaos ensues with roaring laughter from the crowd. Another relatable bit was making fun of middle school dances. One girl is obsessed with Twenty One Pilots and My Chemical Romance, meanwhile one guy is obsessed with Minecraft. The first act ended with a sketch called “The Show Must Go On,” which utilized the musical vocal talents of many of the cast members.
Similar to the “Saturday Night Live Weekend Update,” BNL did its own version to begin the second act, including jokes about BU’s two-factor authentication and Met Gala outfits. The “Weekend Update” was done by both directors Miller and Rakus with multiple guests appearing, such as “RJ,” played by Fox, who parodied Bill Hader’s “Stefon” character.
The entire time the actors really looked like they were enjoying themselves and having a fun time. Katherine Quinn, a junior double-majoring in English and cinema, played in a handful of the sketches. Quinn loved working with everyone in the laid-back, in-person environment again.
“A lot of people here I have done the virtual BNLs with and now I’m just doing a show with them in person,” Quinn said. “It’s so fun to see how the dynamics change.”
The rest of the second act featured more inventive sketches, including a dating show but for roommates and a Russian barber with a tragic past involving hair. The end of the show featured a second musical segment about how great the supermarket Wegman’s is. The whole cast wore Wegman’s employee shirts and integrated multiple foods and a shopping cart into the choreography.
Rakus and Miller said they put all of their love and passion into “BNL Tota11y Live!” even after challenges like only having a month to write, recruit and rehearse. They managed to overcome it though, which Rakus attributes to the close bond she holds with Miller and Fox.
“We all know each other so well,” Rakus said. “The three of us together came up with this awesome show very quickly.”
Both Miller and Rakus have been friends since their freshman year and watched “Saturday Night Live” together religiously. That love has brought them to the director positions they find themselves in now.
Miller reflected on their past and how it has shaped their current roles with BNL.
“I remember our freshman year when we found out that BNL was a thing, we said to ourselves ‘Before we graduate we need to direct that together’ and now we’re doing it,” Miller said. “It’s kind of come full circle.”