Wednesday, April 23, 2014
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Splitting sides, not hairs, over competition

With an array of student groups on Boston University’s campus, it is easy for students in every college to find their niché.

For students looking to make people laugh, BU’s comedy groups, which strive to maintain their own style while performing various types of comedy, provide many opportunities.

From sketch to long-form, BU’s student comics said they are welcomed into the comedy community as long as they are willing to put themselves out there.

 

Why Comedy?

BU is home to five comedy groups recognized by the Student Activities Office, and countless stand-up comedian students.

Each group stresses that experience is not important — as long as students are willing to try and are not too embarrassed if they make a fool of themselves, they will fit right in, members said.

Before joining the groups, potential members are tested on their comfort level with acting silly through warm-ups during auditions.

“Warm-ups and improv are always a little bit embarrassing — you have to look like a fool to do the warm-ups,” said Liz Arcury, a junior in the School of Hospitality Administration and a member of the comedy group Sons of Liberty. “We kind of do the warm-ups first to see if they are okay looking stupid. Can they swallow their pride and do this?”

One of the more common ways students hear about comedy groups here at BU is through word of mouth. The three new members of Slow Children at Play, or more commonly Slow Kids at Play — College of Communication sophomore Evan Gott, College of Arts and Sciences freshman Jasmine Miller and CAS freshman Michael Sciortino — said they all heard of their group through friends of members or those involved themselves.

“I did theater in high school, and I wanted to do theater here, but then one of my FYSOP group leaders was really passionate about Slow Kids at Play, and she kept telling us how great it was, so I decided why not audition?” Miller said.

 

Comedy as a Competition?

Although in most aspects of college life, students strive to be the best — beat the other team and get the highest grades, amongst the BU comedy community, “best” is a relative term, members said.

Competition is scarce between groups, with them choosing instead to cultivate relationships and support one another.

While students test their wit and humor in contests such as BU’s Funniest Student, Sciortino said, BU comedy groups do not give in to the cutthroat nature of competitions — they are only there to encourage their fellow comedians.

“You know, we have relationships with the different groups that we’re not really out to be better than them, unless it’s a competition,” Sciortino said. “For the most part, we are all looking to be funny people and help each other out as much as we can.”

The best that these comedy groups strive for is an internal task, members said. It is not so much that the groups are competing with one another, but more so that they are competing with themselves.

To grow in comedy, the student comedians said they compare themselves to others, reflect upon what they have accomplished and examine what the next step is to decide how can they get better.

“What keeps me really passionate about the group is that we have this really high standard, like number one is that we always want to get better,” Arcury, one of the veteran members of Sons of Liberty, said.

 

What’s next?

If students are lovers of all things comedy, the logical next step might be getting involved in the craft. However, most students said they do not think far past their initial participation in a group or doing stand-up. But a number of them pursue opportunities elsewhere in the comedy arena.

Besides from being an member in Sons of Liberty, Arcury said she has also tried her hand at satirical writing. She has been published on the website, Collegehumor.com, and participated in stand-up, competing as a stand-up comedian in BU’s Funniest Student.

With all the time it takes to refine their skills, they are not without reward. The experiences and the friendships they create while at school contribute to the great comedy network group members will take with them even after college.

“There’s like this huge Slow Kids network and it’s really cool being new on campus and getting to know so many people already,” Miller said.

This Slow Kids network includes past members who are writers for Jimmy Fallon and the head writer for The Onion.

Whether students plan on pursuing some form a career in comedy or not, getting to participate in such real comedy situations prepares them for some of what they might encounter in the actual world of comedy, students said.

They also said that being a part of BU’s comedy community introduces them to people with a great sense of humor and provides a place to interact with the community as a whole.

“The other day I was actually approached by someone who said, ‘Hey! You’re in Slow Kids — you were just in a show.’ And I felt like a celebrity, which was fantastic,” said Sciortino. “All of a sudden I’m this recognizable face on campus.”

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