On Wed. March 28, the Lilting Banshees had two sold-out shows featuring hilarious skits about everything from Greek Life, bird calls, the excessively long line at Chick-Fil-a and more.
Throughout the hour- long show, the audience could be found smirking, giggling or in all-out fits of laughter. Beyond the event, however, most students have little knowledge on how the Banshees come to have perfect deliveries for their jokes.
When I sat down with three members of the Banshees, seniors Samuel Ederle, Robert Shavel and sophomore Cooper Blaze, on the Monday before their show, they unsurprisingly cracked numerous jokes among themselves. However, they also revealed many details about how the comedy troupe functions, both as an organization and a family.
“The goal of Banshees is to be an outlet on campus for all students to go and be able to forget about all of the expectations, stress and difficulties that come with being a college student, to go and laugh at themselves, to laugh at each other and have a good hour to just kinda forget everything,” Ederle, who is also the director, said.
For this to be achieved, the 22 members of the troupe start to plan the show three months in advance. For most of this period, they get together three to four times a week and pitch ideas for sketches. During this process, Ederle and Assistant Director Meghan Shannon choose their favorite ideas and divide the members into groups to further refine the pitch. By the end of this process, Shavel said they have anywhere from 50 to 100 sketches to work with.
“Then, we will spend a whole day doing something called War Room, which is from 10 a.m. to sometimes 1 a.m., and we will talk through every single sketch and make a unanimous decision about which ones get in the show. By then, we are exhausted but really happy with the outcome,” Shavel said.
Although there is an Executive Board that deals mostly with the administrative aspects of the organization, every member has an equal role when it comes to writing sketches and performing on stage. Ederle discussed how one of the most important aspects is Banshee’s creative, non judgemental atmosphere that allows members to share any jokes that come to mind. With a wide range of material coming from a diverse conglomerate of people, each show is a curation of the group’s best work.
In the interest of this creative climate, the group actually voted against me sitting in on a rehearsal. While making a joke about the Banshees being as secretive as the Order of the 23, Ederle explained the precarious balance between the evolution of their content and their private, yet freeing, environment.
“What you guys see on the stage on Wednesday is not what happens at rehearsal on Monday because we are continuously messing with these characters and trying to find different awesome parts to it. I kind of love the secrecy,” Ederle said.
Many members join the fall of their freshman year, spending much of their college career as a Banshee. Shavel, for instance, tried out after the director reached out to him because of the amusing jokes he used on campaign posters for Student Government.
Freshman Marianna Trabanino is one of the few new members this year, who decided she wanted to audition after seeing the Welcome to Wake show.
“I joined because I love to make people laugh,” Trabanino said. “The audition process was insanely long and structured in a way that only those deemed ‘pee your pants’ funny would get in.”
Ultimately, the tight-knit group of students have grown to become a family both inside and outside of their duties as Banshee members. Both Ederle and Shavel’s fondest memories include hanging out, getting together for parties and dinners and going on group retreats.
“Being with this group not only lets me identify with this family I’ve become a part of, but it’s also the most ‘me’ that I am,” Blaze said. “If I want someone to get to know me I’d say ‘hey, come to the show’ and you’d see what I love and get to see me share it with a lot of people from such a wide range of areas on campus. It’s helped me create such a unique opportunity for me to kind of be ‘me.’”