By Eric Preisler
The Traditions stage became a stand-up circuit on Sept. 25 at 7 p.m., as eight students entertained an enraptured audience as with their standup routines.
Tabitha Dell’Angelo, an associate professor and co-coordinator of urban education at the College, explained that this was part of an interactive multimedia topics course, comedy writing.
The students had to be ready to perform after only their third class of the semester.
“We did improv, created sketches, did storytelling and put together stand up sets,” she said.
Dell’Angelo also expressed that this course could be a great learning opportunity for students, and could help them meet personal goals.
“For some students, public speaking was their main goal,” she said.
Dell’Angelo hopes they’ll one day, his students will perform on bigger comedy stages.
“I hope they gained some confidence in themselves, and will think differently about how they approach some of their future endeavors,” she said.
Students had various reasons for enrolling in this course and performing standup.
Some students have had previous experiences with comedy and felt that this could be a good opportunity to further explore the discipline.
Taylor LaCaze, a junior marketing major, explained that he and his friends have been involved with comedy, and this could give him a chance to add it to his transcript.
“I’ve done a lot of improv and theater in the past and I thought standup would be a fun change of pace,” he said. “I’m not going to pass up the opportunity to have a comedy class on my transcript.”
While some students already had experience with comedy, some felt that this course could offer exposure to something new.
“The reason I took this class was for the experience,” said Evan Jones, a senior interactive multimedia major. “I feel that I should go out of my way to have as many experiences as possible.”
For some, the idea of performing is difficult enough, but creating ideas for performances can be even more challenging. Jones’s comedy was inspired by personal experiences.
“Honestly most of the material I came up with was looking at my sorry life and saying ‘yeah normal people don’t experience that, let’s share it,’” he said.
Desiree Aponte, a senior English and secondary education dual major, based her stand-up off of experiences she had with her family, describing details that occurred in her life.
“My professor gave us assignments to recall funny stories and to roast ourselves, so I incorporated a bit of both into the routine,” Aponte said. “When I think of comedy in my life, it usually comes in the form of my family and friends, so creating a set about family get-togethers was an easy choice.”
She chose to talk about funny family interactions and the inside jokes that they share.
“Not everyone is Puerto Rican and can relate to my family,” she said, “but people are familiar with their own ridiculous family, so I tried to bring in elements that were relatable.”
Another challenging aspect of creating the content was strategically shedding light on funny aspects of everyday life, which might not seem evidently funny from the surface.
LaCaze explained the planning for his standup routine.
“It was all about exaggerating certain parts of it for comedic effect, and inserting jokes during the exposition to keep it interesting throughout,” he said. “I also came up with a few jokes on the spot, with no idea how they would actually go over, but they seemed to do well enough.”
While performing standup is a challenging process, Jones explained that stage performance was not his biggest fear.
“The worst was sharing my ideas,” Jones said. “Ideas that I had ownership over –– any critique would be a critique of me.”
LaCaze, who based his performance off his experiences in theater, explained that the planning process and relatability of his content most challenged him.
“I was worried that the audience might not laugh because my story about a performing a rather niche type of theater, pantomime, wasn’t very relatable,” LaCaze said, “but I feel like I explained it well enough.”
Students expressed that both the course and the routines were a valuable and enjoyable learning experience for the students involved.
“The show was a lot of fun,” Aponte said. “Even though I had heard my classmate’s stories a few times during practice, I still laughed really hard during their performances. Their confidence was inspiring.”