Keeping Grandma Mojo alive

Travis Whittington

There aren’t many places you can see a Depends-wearing Bobby Knight, a DPS Nazi and a hip-hop version of the Wiley Eye lady.

But at Iowa State’s sketch comedy troupe Grandma Mojo’s Moonshine Revival, those images are commonplace.

Grandma Mojo’s formed in 1997 when ISU’s former sketch comedy group, The Mighty Monkey Power Hour, lost most of its members to graduation.

Now the comedy troupe is forced to face the same kind of turnoverperiod. They’re pressing on, despite the fact that none of the group’s original members remain.

“This will be the first year that Mojo’s will perform without anyone that had worked with the original cast,” said Scott Connelly, one of Mojo’s new members.

This year Grandma Mojo’s hits the stage with six rookies and seven members from last year’s cast.

Second-year member Zac Barclay said he is really confident in the show’s newcomers.

“Sometimes we do improvisation, so you have to keep things fresh and one of the best ways to do that is to bring new people in,” Barclay said.

The cast held the first performance of the year on Sept. 20. Some sketches featured sarcastic and harsh comedic shots at people including Bobby Knight, former ISU President Martin Jischke and actor Christopher Reeves.

“What we try to do is hold up a mirror to Iowa State and reflect events that happen here with a little comedy,” said cast member Brandon Jenkins. “We pick on Iowa State a little but there are no holds barred when we perform.”

Grandma Mojo’s tries to stretch creativity as far as possible, Barclay said. Though he admits the sketches are sometimes a little harsh on people, he said the result is usually a good laugh.

The crowd attending Grandma Mojo’s last show seemed to agree.

Laughter and cheers filled the M-Shop as the cast worked through their sketches. One skit that went over well with the crowd was about the Department of Public Safety.

Jenkins and fellow cast member John Peterson played Nazi DPS interrogators that tortured a guy who had parked illegally. The violator, played by Barclay, was force fed Haagen-Dazs ice cream for his crimes against the university.

“Grandma Mojo’s is great show. It’s very funny and it’s a nice break during the week,” said Paul Melzer, a junior in mechanical engineering who attended the performance.

Cast member Jennifer Poach said she heard a lot of good responses after the show, but those involved in the show are their toughest critics.

“We see spots where we can improve,” Poach said. “So every week we work hard to get better.”

Grandma Mojo’s Moonshine Revival performs every other Wednesday at the M-Shop. The next performance will be tonight at 10 p.m.