Tanned women tennis players shaking in grass hula skirts, huge football players showing off their sensitive side, softball players dreaming what it would be like to be a boy, men’s golfers just being strange and rowers flashing back to the days of Super Mario Brothers? Crazy for sure, but those are just a few of the hilarious acts that took to the stage in KU’s Memorial Union Ballroom Tuesday night for the annual JayRock Variety Show.
The annual event that allows student-athletes to show off skills far removed from their various sports went retro for its seventh edition with the theme “I Love the 90’s.” There also was a retro feel to the show since videos, that had grown to dominate over live acts, were kept to a minimum. Tuesday night was about live performances. The nine teams that participated did not disappoint.
Hosted by the ever-retro and always-unique Scott Pollard, the former KU and NBA basketball center entertained with his droll humor and made multiple wardrobe changes. Starting in a suit before donning a classic KU uniform to check in with the judges, Pollard finished the night in a baggy jean urban look.
Top honors went to rowing for their homage to one of the most popular video games of the 90’s. Here is rundown of the acts with yours truly’s reviews.
Rowing – For their Super Mario Brothers skit, the team’s props were spot on. The coxswain and rower that played Mario and Luigi made the act outstanding. Knocking out Missouri Tigers, Texas Longhorns and other Big 12 schools just for fun always appeals to the crowd too.
Football – For laughs, you can never go wrong teaming football players with Celine Dion. To the Dion classic My Heart Will Go On, players dove into their aquatic synchronized swim routine that had the crowd roaring. When they came up for air, the second-place trophy was theirs.
Tennis – Just back from a tournament in Hawaii, the tennis team brought back grass skirts and put them to good use. Their exuberant dance performance began with the traditional hula then covered a wide spectrum of dances that garnered the third place trophy.
Track – The pulsating music used for the Hawkin’ dance routine by four members of the track team drew everyone into the action. Taking their moves down from the stage and into the appreciative audience was a spectacularly smart move.
Volleyball – Last year’s winners came up with a No Strings Attached dance number. The masked, string puppets broke away from the puppeteers and took us through a variety of dances from the 90’s and today. The dancing was outstanding. The mystery of which players were hiding behind the masks only heightened the drama.
Softball – Strong performances the past two years had everyone anxious to see what the players would come up with next. In the locker room dream scene, If I Were a Boy, the women came to the shocking conclusion – No way! The female athletes laughed loudly over some obvious truths. Funny, there were few roars from the guys. Maybe that was because the performance stunk, since a large part of the dream involved loud flatulence.
Swimming – Four swimmers in unison clapping their hands and tapping out music on their legs, arms and shoulders was Claptastic but lacked the wow-factor needed to get them into a top spot.
Women’s Golf – Someone had to go first which is never easy. Golf, with their Matrix Ping Pong act, tried to humanly recreate a computer-generated table tennis match featuring flying and floating players. They did well, but the crowd could have used a warmup act to get them wound up before golf hit the stage.
Men’s Golf – Credit to the men’s golfers for trying, but I never figured out exactly what they were doing and am not sure the crowd did either. The trash bagged bodies with jackets zipped around their hips restricted their dance moves – which might have been a good thing. Funny, but it did not leave me with a Good Feeling.
Finally, even though it was a video, the performance by soccer player Jordyn Perdue, softball player Alex Jones and track and field thrower Mason Finley to Wilson Phillips’ Hold On was a riot. It had the classic MTV music video look and feel, and the site of the huge Finley prancing through blowing grassy fields was a hilarious capper to an always fun evening. Well done once again by all. Bravo.