Follow TV Tropes


Theatre / Hack Punt Tool

Go To
All I want to be is hardk0re.
Billy Rogers, "I Want to Be Hardk0re"

Hack, Punt, Tool is a comedic musical from MIT about the school's 'hacker' culture. (In MIT slang, a 'hacker' is someone who pulls elaborate and skilful pranks.)

Billy is extremely eager to be a 'hardk0re hacker', and meets Corot, who leads a hack. Billy joins Corot's hack. The campus police, lead by Sergeant Sprinkles, declare war on the hackers after finding out about a recent hack. At the hack meeting, Billy meets the rest of the hack team, and Corot unveils the plan for the next target - something related to a dragon - to be put on top of the dome (a very visible and traditional location for hacks). The team is making good progress on the hack, but Kepler derides their work before being chased off by Corot. Billy and Tess are warned about the November Rule, which forbids their budding relationship until November. The team keeps trying to pull off their hack, with continued interference from Kepler and the CPs.


The musical premiered at MIT in 2012, performed by MIT's Musial Theatre Guild. It was revived in 2017, with a (mostly) new cast. Both versions have been posted to YouTube, and the script and score have been released under a Creative Commons license. See the official website for links to these.

Hack, Punt, Tool provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Absurd Phobia: In-universe: In "Distraction Tango", needs all four of the CPs to drive because of a phobia.

  • Aggressive Categorism: Officer Pachino thinks that the five kids were up to no good because they had backpacks. This takes place on a university campus.

  • All There in the Script:

    • The full names of the CPs are not mentioned in dialogue, only in the script.

    • The Hacksemble and Froshsemble are nicknames given to the hack team and the Froshes, respectively. These nicknames are only used in the script.

  • Ask a Stupid Question...: In-universe: a CP asks what Kepler is doing up so late. Kepler responds "I'm an MIT student", as if it should have been obvious.

  • Big "NO!": Sergeant Sprinkles after the hack team escapes him again.

  • Call-Back: "All tech men carry batteries." This references an excuse an MIT student (and suspected hacker/prankster) gave after being caught with a battery in his pocket at the Harvard-Yale football game.

  • Casual Kink: Electra and Mags have experience with rope bondage, and are eager to help the rest of the hack team with that experience. Tensor shows up tied up by Electra and Mags at the end of the musical.

  • Distracted by the Sexy: Attempted by Electra and Mags to distract CPs from the rest of the hack team.

  • Duet of Differences: In "Back in the Day", Corot and Kepler tell their side of how they broke up to Tess and Billy respectively. The audience hears both versions at the same time.

  • Fantastic Measurement System: In "Distraction Tango", Electra asks the CPs to stay "fifty Smoots away". Somewhat subverted since Smoots are a joke unit of distance originated at MIT. For the curious, one Smoot is five feet eight inches, making fifty Smoots 279 feet 2 inches.

  • Felony Misdemeanor: In "Sprinkles' Admonition" When the team is caught by the CPs on the roof, their punishments range from raking leaves to permanent tracking devices to (gasp) expulsion.

  • Gender Flip: The script was written with gender neutral pronouns, explicitly allowing for gender flips between different runs.

  • Just Friends: Subverted - while Billy and Tess claim to be 'just platonic friends', the Novembat and everyone else see through this.

  • Lemony Narrator: Story Jack is definitely on the side of the hackers, and may even be a minor character, one of the hack team, reminiscing about past adventures, since the character wanders from one side of the Fourth Wall to the other very often. Story Jack gets caught by one of the CPs at the end of "Distraction Tango".

  • Leet Lingo: I want to be hardk0re.

  • Lovable Rogue: Story Jack portrays the hack team, and hackers (MIT usage) in general as being noble pranksters who do no harm.

  • Meaningful Name:

    • Faraday is experienced with electronics, and his code-name is Cage.

    • Tensor is interested in topology, and is in MIT's Math program.

    • Piston plays football (or some other kind of contact sport with tackling).

    • Subversion: Kepler is in computer science (or some field where compilation can take forever).

  • Musical World Hypotheses: Lampshaded: In "I want to be Hardk0re", Connor asks Billy "You’re going to sing again, aren't you...", as Billy prepares to launch into song once more. The character of the Story Jack seems to suggest the adaptation hypothesis.

  • Nobody Thinks It Will Work: The reason for the November Rule - nobody thinks that dating between froshes and upper years will work out, so such relationships are forbidden.

  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Electra and Mags change clothes three different times in "Distraction Tango", pretending to be different people. The CPs seem to buy all of the different disguises.

  • Pretentious Latin Motto: "parete legi Novembri". Supposedly the internal motto of MIT. Roughly translates to "listen to the law of November", or "obey the November Rule".

  • Quarreling Song: Many instances - the argument in "Wank, Wank, Wank" and the argument in "Hackers on the Roof".

  • Rabid Cop: Sergeant Sprinkles - the Sergeant is obsessed with catching the hackers. In the end, the Sergeant becomes less obsessed.

  • Recap Episode: The first scene is a recap of all of the hacks MIT hackers have pulled before.

  • The Triple: The escalating levels of punishment from the Novembat for forbidden relationships. First, you get long printer queues, then you lose the ability to do integrals. Finally, you get kicked (metaphorically?) off the top of the Green Building, a tall building on campus.

  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: After being told about the November Rule, Billy derides it, saying, "Oh, come  on. It’s not like some nightmare-­horror-­maw creature will come and devour our bodies and feast on our entrails if we—". At this point, the hack team stares at Billy, aghast.