Note: In an unusually energetic mood I decided to take a stab at gonzo journalism. But you will not be able to take me seriously, because I am a joker.
On Friday Nov. 10, the Swarthmore Stand Up Comedy Club preformed in the first floor lounge of the Alice Paul dormitory. It was cold as snot in Siberia and windy as hell, enough to blow a girl and her dog on a bicycle off the Kansas plains and over the rainbow. I had volunteered to perform, along with a line-up of comic Swatties.
I was nervous to do my act; I had not prepared very much, and I was going to tell jokes I had never told before so, I had no idea if they were going to work. But when I arrived in Alice Paul and saw the rows of chairs neatly set up I forgot my nerves and greeted the event organizers. David Levy ’18, Rachel Hilburn ’19, and Ari Liloia ’20, young comedic stars on this campus, had recruited performers and found a performance space, and they seemed excited to see their plans come to fruition.
The crowd came in and was bubbling with excitement. Usually when people assemble at this school to watch somebody talk its for a lecture. Unlike lectures, which are only incidentally funny, this stand-up performance was intended to be so. The AP lounge was filled to capacity, and even some of the dwellers of that dormitory stopped on the stairs to the second floor or came out of their rooms to see what all the commotion was about.
Hilburn opened the event with jokes and some information about SSUCC. The crowd loosened up when Hilburn drew roars of laughter, and sitting with all the performers, it seemed like we were all enthusiastic to get up and tell jokes.
Before jokes can be told, they have to be thought of. Comedians are somewhat analogous to sprinters. That have to put a lot of work in to perform a specific task for a short time. And like runners, comedians have different styles that are reflections of their personality and the nature of humor. Some comedians write jokes, some perform skits, and some people are able to be comedians by simply being themselves. Pablo Picasso once said that “art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given to us to understand.” Thinking of jokes can also involve lying; I know I often lie, and people tell me I’m funny. Telling jokes about your life is possible by tweaking certain details of things and thereby constructing hilarious scenarios. Sometimes it is useful and good to construct strawmen; for example when you are making scarecrows. One of my first jokes is an example of this.
“My friend Tyler, he was like one of those guys that was always carrying around baseball bats. He goes to nursing school now.”
The organizers of the event were happy about how the event went, especially the big and friendly crowd that came to watch.
“Initially we were worried because there was so much other stuff happening that night, but what ended up happening was the people who were there really wanted to be there so we had a great crowd of people who were excited to see us perform and who didn’t just come because there was nothing else happening,” said Liloia, who also performed at the event.
According to Hilburn, the show was a success, and organizing and promoting the event was not too difficult.
“I think it was pretty straightforward organizing it: we reserved the space and contacted the club to see who wanted to perform. We then did promotion on small posters and social media and through friends and the club. I think it was a successful show and we had a great turn out with a good crowd,” said Hilburn.
Members of the audience also seemed to enjoy the show.
“I thought the show was really good! It was really low pressure and inclusive, and wonderful to have people attend a nice community event that wasn’t just a normal party. I hope there are more events like it in the future,” said Gus Burchell ’20, who came to the show with friends.
SSUCC is in a transition as a club. Originally started by Joe Bonniger ’16 after he helped organize and perform at an open mic event, the club for the past two years usually had weekly meetings and several shows a semester. Like all clubs at Swarthmore, it is attempting to redefine itself and to recruit new talent. Whatever form SSUCC takes, this will surely not be the last laughs that student stand-up comedians draw on this campus.