College Counseling, Blue Key Heads, and ‘Pa Pa Land’: Andover Night Live Parodies Everyday Andover Life

As Ed Elson ’17 played a slow and emotional tune on the piano in Under the Bed’s (UTB) short film “Pa Pa Land,” the camera turned to capture Paige Morss ’17 and Sam Bird ’18 walking slowly out of the concert hall. With the sound of the door slamming shut behind the them, Elson played one final, haunting note on the piano, before the screen faded black, sending the audience into a roaring standing ovation.

“Pa Pa Land,” which is Andover’s version of the award-winning movie “La La Land,” was played as the finale of UTB’s annual “Andover Night Live” performance this Saturday in Kemper auditorium. The short film was created entirely by UTB, Andover’s improvisational comedy group, in collaboration with the student-run Andover Moviemakers Club. The film featured members of UTB, Blue Strut, Andover’s jazz dance group, tap dancer Jackson Diodati ’20, trumpet player Alisa Crueger-Cain ’20, drummer Nicholas Emerson ’20, saxophonist Jacob Peffer ’17, bassist Brett Sawka ’17, and drummer Amiri Tulloch ’18.

“To me the whole [experience creating the short film] was just [about how] so rarely do you have outlandish ideas and then also get to execute on them, and the unspoken rule [for us] was that no idea is too crazy. We have the will to [execute our ideas], and we have a school faculty that support us… The story of ‘Pa Pa Land’ is [Elson] and I saying something sort of half joking, half dreaming that we want to happen, and then [Andrew Stern ’19, director of the short film] saying, ‘No, we can do that,’ ” said Charlie Mayhew ’18, a member of UTB and a writer and cast member of “Pa Pa Land.”

“Andover Night Live,” (ANL) is a parody of NBC’s popular show “Saturday Night Live,” and typically features a combination of live sketches and projected short films, each revolving around jokes about different aspects of Andover’s culture. 

“I really like ANL because I think it’s a [show] just rooted around funniness, and I think that’s really valuable in just trying to make people laugh. I think also what makes it unique is [that] they kind of make things funny in a way that incorporates part of campus life that is really relatable to Andover students and then also relatable to teenagers in general,” said Sarah Stack ’19, an audience member.

To start the performance, the members of UTB ran off of the stage into the aisles in the audience dressed in entirely blue attire to mimic the clothing of Blue Key Heads, dancing and shouting as they yelled various parodies on the Blue Key Head cheers. The cheers referenced and poked fun at aspects of Andover’s culture, with phrases like “Reverse Racism Exists” or “Goodness, Knowledge! End Goal, College!”

“I loved the opening Blue Key Head skit where we mimicked a Blue Key Head chant because I thought that was really funny and was just quintessential Andover. We were just satirizing something that’s very common to Andover and satirizing pieces of Andover that people don’t always like to admit, like the ‘Goodness, Knowledge, End Goal College,’ part,” said Morss, co-head of UTB with Elson.

In another popular sketch, Elson and Ace Ellsweig ’18 played two College Counseling officers dressed in vests and each holding a coffee cup in one hand. One by one, they prompted the members playing Lowers to share the contents in their backpacks, mocking an actual College Counseling activity that students are asked to participate in during their Lower year. After Elson and Ellsweig’s characters expressed concern over the first few students’ bags, Nick Schoeller ’18, playing a student through pantomime, entered onstage and pretended to empty the contents of his bag, which pleased the college counselors.

“The college counseling [sketch] was really relatable, and I felt like it was sophisticated in the sense that the fact that the mime ended up being the one that the college counselors liked [suggests] that you had to make yourself something that you weren’t to get colleges, and I think that’s the opinion of a lot of students here, and I think it’s clever how they incorporated that into the sketch,” said Stack.

Andover Night Live marks the final performance this year for the Senior members in UTB, co-heads Morss and Elson. To recognize the graduating members, Mayhew gave a speech before the finale of the show in which he thanked the co-heads and gifted them a framed photo of the group, signed by each member of UTB.

“I think it’s really sad that this is my last Andover Night Live because I’ve been in [Under the Bed] for the past four years, and it’s just been a big part of the Andover experience. I’ve just grown up around a lot of the people, and I’ve just made some of my best friends in the group. It’s really, really sad to let that go, but also just seeing the products that we produced this year were just so awesome and seeing the responses to ‘Pa Pa Land’… it’s just been awesome, and it’s been awesome to see how positively everyone has received everything,” said Morss.

Editor’s Note: Charlie Mayhew ’18 is an Eighth Page Editor for The Phillipian. Nick Schoeller ’18 is a Copy Editor for The Phillipian.