One of our lovely Penn Med Spoof Directors describes the annual tradition of an entirely student-run musical performance parodying medical school and our wonderful professors and classmates.
Every spring, Penn Med students from all classes get together to put on a show that is one of the school’s most beloved traditions – Spoof! Part skits, part musical/dance numbers, the show both parodies and celebrates the medical school experience, and often the field of medicine in general. Spoof has many traditions; one of my favorites is the way we choose the name of the show each year. A school-wide name contest is held, with students submitting medicine- and pop-culture-themed puns, and the winner receiving both eternal glory and free admission to the show. Previous titles include classics such as “Game of Crohns” and “Narcs and Respiration;” this year’s runaway favorite was “Straight Outta Thrombin.”
For all the cast and crew, Spoof is a great way to spend time with classmates and students from other years, as well as to show off talents in acting, singing, dancing, writing, and choreographing that are often in disuse during most of medical school. For many, including myself, the best part of Spoof is the chance to bond with Penn Med students of all years in such a fun and unique setting – a far cry from the classroom or the hospital!
The show offers a lot to members of every class, whether in the cast or in the audience. MS1s traditionally write and star in a skit lampooning both the professors and general shenanigans of the pre-clinical experience. This year’s show saw the MS1s perform spot-on impersonations of beloved Mod 1 instructors Dr. Lewis, Dr. Allman, and Dr. Toshi, to name a few, in a hilarious Star-Wars-themed skit. In addition, the show allows MS1s in both the cast and the audience to get an inside glimpse of what med school has in store for them in the years to come!
MS2s, having just entered the wilds of the hospital for their clerkship year, usually contribute a video, as this allows them to prepare ahead of time and spare themselves the weeks of rehearsal and late-night pizza-eating required of Spoof cast members. This year most certainly set a record for the most enthusiastic and dedicated MS2 class – their video, which depicted Penn Med as an episode of Survivor, included a cast of over 50 students and faculty! And as the show was scheduled on the weekend following the end of a clerkship block, many MS2s were able to unwind after their first shelf exams by enjoying the show in person.
For MS3s, who by showtime have completed two major milestones of medical school (clerkship year and Step 1), Spoof affords the perfect opportunity for unwinding, as well as catharsis. We had a strong contingent of dedicated MS3s this year, involved in everything from writing and acting in some of the crowd-favorite skits and songs of the night (Admission (Remix) and Navicare were some of the many standouts), to filming and editing all of the show’s videos, and to playing in the band (some ultra-committed MS3s did many of these simultaneously). We can rest assured that next year these future MS4s will make Spoof even better (if such a thing is possible)!
MS4s traditionally make up a large percentage of both cast and audience, as in their post-Match and pre-residency state they tend to have the most free time and the most enthusiasm for poking fun at all things med school. Being a part of the show allows MS4s the opportunity to reminisce on their Penn Med experiences, and to make more daring jokes than they might if they weren’t already guaranteed to graduate. Who knows if so many students would have volunteered to do a Magic-Mike-themed dance routine on stage if they weren’t already matched into residency programs? (And yes, this number brought the house down.) For a certainty, it was a wonderful way to start to close out our med school careers, and a more fitting venue could not be imagined – this year’s Spoof was in the beautiful Zellerbach Theater, the same place where we MS4s had our white coat ceremony just a few years before.
There’s not much more I can say about the magic and joy that is Penn Med Spoof, so I think I will let a few pictures do the rest of the talking. Med school has been a crazy and amazing ride, and being involved in Spoof 2016 was one of the best parts by far. I’m sure Spoof 2017 will be fantastic!
Med students taking a standardized patient exam in the show’s opener, “Book of Perelman.”
The cast showing off major singing skills in an anesthesia/surgery version of Adele’s “Hello”
Getting information out of a patient in “Good Doc/Bad Doc”
The Match, if hosted by “Maury,” would certainly include a case of contested paternity.
Med school gunners, too hot to handle, in “HUPtown Funk”
All photos courtesy of Chris Sant.
Emily Cross (MS4) grew up in NYC and is headed to Boston for pediatrics residency. She was an enthusiastic Spoof audience member for the first three years of med school, but this year decided to dive in head first as co-director alongside classmates Jim Murrett and Stephan Wu.