By Lisa DiCarlucci, Entertainment Editor
The second episode of Thursday Night Live, directed by Alex Baxter, aired last Thursday in an hour that made it glaringly obvious that the cast and crew would do themselves a favor if they focused their energy more on sharper timing, than on creating ridiculous characters and beating every joke until it is dead and buried. TNL does not suffer from a lack of funny material, but from a lack of knowing when to let it go. Jokes that invoke a giggle when first made became utterly boring upon third and fourth mention. It's no wonder why the five gentlemen behind me felt the need to smuggle wine in their soda cans to sit through the live broadcast.
The November 4 show opened with a sketch of President Obama, played skillfully by Emmanuel Neris, taking questions from his constituency. Neris really had a knack for capturing Obama's diction and mannerisms without trying too hard. The cast members who played the, questioners, however did not live up to Neris' performance. Tyler Dickens, asking for a refund on a defective Obama condom he received, delivered a great joke that was lost in his over-the-top accent. It distracted from the writing which was genuinely funny on its own. Claire Entrup did an excellent job of delivering some serious political commentary at the end of the sketch, but by that point the characters who preceded her had already exhausted the sketch with one too many unnecessary back and forths with the President.
The second sketch of this episode involved Neris and fellow cast member Philip Eslick auditioning to play Elmo at a children's birthday party. The dialogue dragged between the two and Entrup and Dickens, who played the parents, seeming to lack direction. While I was waiting for this sketch to hit a peak that never came, I was delightfully distracted by the hysterical laughter that Eslick's Elmo impression incited. The voice was spot on and hilarious.
Less notable sketches included a painfully long scene about V-Cards which would have worked much better as a 30 second package. Instead, the sketch takes up precious air time, building on a joke that wasn't terribly funny to begin with and included acting from Cian Smith that was trying far too desperately to save a sinking ship. Smith keeps trying in a college party sketch where he portrays a guido a la "Jersey Shore" but fails because he is simply not believable in the role. Tyler Dickens busts out another strange accent in this scene which works better than the first but still takes too much away from the essential joke.
TNL News featured two cast members previously unseen in this episode, Jake Link and Sarah Whittle, so it was a shame that these two managed to stumble so frequently in their short appearance, giggling at one another and stuttering their words. The jokes they made were funny, but the news points were slightly outdated. The two were especially smiley during the whole bit, making it seem that the audience was on the outside of their inside joke. The news segment would be funnier if they could have kept a straight face, its supposed to be a mock news report after all. Take a note from last year's anchor Noah Redfield who rarely ever cracked a smile.
Overall, this episode of TNL had it's funny moments but those moments drowned in battered jokes. The episode would have worked better with more short sketches as opposed to a few longer ones. For the next episode the actors should focus more on the material and timing instead of on exaggerating their characters. The writers should work on getting to the point by making the joke and keeping it simple. The package producers should do their best to vary the casting and locations (READ: get out of the tower lounges) and work more with non-Hofstra centric material. TNL has great comedic perspective in the majority of the material but it gets lost in the excess.