Ah, the smell of pumpkin chai lattes in the Cage as siblings sprint past event advertisements in order to tackle their Ole counterparts: Welcome to Homecoming Weekend. When students were not busy reconnecting with family this past weekend, the campus offered several sources of entertainment, ranging from comedic performances to a diverse array of concerts.
King of the Hill
An annual tradition, the King of the Hill male beauty pageant/talent show kicked off the weekend on Friday night. In keeping with the homecoming theme of “Super Oles,” candidates of all class years made their most heroic attempts to charm the judges. The competition included five categories: pickup lines, beachwear, talent, original superheroes and Q&A.
Each contestant added their own flair to the competition this year. David Hastings ’14 was escorted by campus celebrity Tha Russell, a Bon Appetit employee who works in Stav Hall. In exchange for this honor, Hastings vowed on stage never again to steal extra pieces of fruit from the cafeteria.
Connor Gunderson ’14 made waves during the beachware competition, dressing in traditional flyfishing garb and “reeling in” various audience members. During the talent competition, John Schwirtz ’14 emotionally strummed Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop” on the guitar, garnering applause and laughs from the audience.
These three contestants’ creativity was rewarded with entry into the final round of elimination, where, in keeping with the theme, they appeared on stage in their alter-ego superhero costumes: Bearded Justice Schwirtz, Saul Bunyan Gunderson and the Solar Panel Hastings. During the Q&A session, Bearded Justice pushed puns, Saul Bunyan entertained with practical answers and the Solar Panel humored viewers with his “happy to be here” attitude and realistic answers about a solar panel’s darkest fear hint: darkness.
Though the entire show elicited well-deserved laughter, it did have a tendency to drag, especially during transitions. Rapid elimination caused mild confusion in the audience, as it was difficult to track competitors who were not well-introduced. Still, the King of the Hill hosts glided through these technical hiccups with grace, ensuring that all audience members were able to partake in the enjoyable event.
Ultimately, quick wit and well-timed humor pushed Hastings above the other competitors, and he was enthusiastically crowned both “King of the Hill” and the “Fan Favorite.” Elated, Hastings celebrated the win with a victory lap around stage on his scooter. Gunderson emerged as the Judge’s pick for “Most Talented.”
Friday evening progressed with a rib-shatteringly comedic performance by the St. Olaf student-run improvisation group Scared Scriptless. With their repeated, rewound skits and on-the-spot storytelling, the group captured an organic flow that left the audience roaring. Storylines never felt forced, and if they were ever close to becoming redundant, a whistle blow would prompt the actors to create a new version of the scene. It was maybe even more enjoyable than the professional “Second City” improvisation group that performed on campus earlier this fall and at times felt a bit stilted.
The subjects of Scared Scriptless’ skits varied from cheese whiz featured in a skit performed in the style of an opera to carrots and dinosaur narcoleptics which appeared in a comedic murder.
The group will perform an all-new show in late October.
On Saturday, Nelly’s Echo performed in the Pause for students and visiting family and friends. The artist gained notoriety after appearing on the television show “The Voice.”
Nelly’s Echo solo artist Nelson Emokpae breathed a cheerful spirit into an already-exciting day with his music. His style was reminiscent of that of John Mayer and Jason Mraz. Utilizing a simple cajon drum and a guitar, Nelly’s Echo sought to inspire students with the message that success is a choice and that no one can tell you otherwise.
Despite a small crowd and a few miscommunications with his percussionist, Nelly’s Echo kept spirits high and drew in all who listened. Before a cover of Jason Mraz’s song “I’m Yours,” he told the audience that he was going to sing it in his native tongue, Nigerian. When the chorus arrived, the audience stopped expectantly, and the artist yelled “Psych!” He had been singing gibberish!
Finally, the St. Olaf Band, St. Olaf Philharmonia, Viking Chorus, Chapel Choir, Manitou Singers and Norseman Band all performed throughout the weekend, consistently displaying their hard work and talent.
As a whole, homecoming weekend abounded with activities that could be enjoyed by all. Job well done, Super Oles!
Photo Credit: SIRI KELLER/MANITOU MESSENGER