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Student Stand-ups entertain and delight

Brenna Williams | Sunday, March 4, 2012

For the last five years, the Notre Dame Student Stand-ups Club has been giving students a stage on which to joke about relationships, childhood, annoyances and every other aspect of their lives. While sacrilege and misogyny are not things we often find fit to laugh at, it sometimes takes a comedic perspective to paint an accurate picture of the way these issues play out in front of us.

Student Stand-ups President senior Tommy Maranges, said the club was a welcome addition.

“Before we were an official club, Legends had student stand-up nights where they invited students to perform. After a few years of that gig, several of the regulars decided to make an official club,” Maranges said.

The club has grown from several original members to about 20. To prepare for a show, they hold workshops to develop material and decide who will perform. The workshops are an important place for the members to get feedback from their peers.

Sophomore member Shelly Kim sees tremendous value in the workshop process.

“If it were not the workshops, my comedy would have hardly developed from freshman year. I’m not sure what comedians do without a community as supportive and helpful as Student Stand-ups,” she said.

The workshop process varies depending on the venue in which they perform. Some venues, like Legends, offer the club a limited amount of time. In those cases, based on each comedian’s level of comfort and preparedness at the final workshop, Maranges and club Vice President junior Bobby Reichle sometimes have to make tough decisions about who will perform one of the seven-minute sets.

Student Stand-ups is a safe place for students looking to strengthen their funny bone. After sitting in on several workshops and seeing how the members interact and support each other, it becomes evident that when you walk into a workshop, it’s safe to leave your fears at the door.

“The club has a very relaxed culture, and it’s very important for me to preserve that. I don’t want the club to become a sort of ‘comic mill’ that focuses entirely on getting as many people through as possible, or a clique that rejects anyone who isn’t good enough or the right type of funny,” Maranges said.

The comedians themselves are extremely diverse, coming from a variety of experience levels, majors, and years. Maranges enjoys the diversity.

“It definitely opens up the possibilities for any particular workshop. I think we’re a better group and the members are all better comics because of that diversity — at workshops we get to have genuinely interesting conversations about boundaries and culture that I’m really grateful for.”

Inspiration for each performer comes from a variety of places. Alex Dragicevich, a sophomore who is new to the club, has quite an involved writing process.

“When I write jokes, I write for an hour or so,” he said. “Then I re-read them. After that, I bang my head against a wall and continue to self-loath for an hour or two, perform for my friends and then the club to see what I should keep.”

Even though the Student Stand-ups often perform with and are mistaken for the Humor Artists, the improvisational comedy group on campus, the art of stand-up flexes different comedic muscles. There’s something intimate about preparing stories ahead of time and being the only person in the spotlight for a chance at seven minutes of fame.

Doing stand-up comedy has been an extremely rewarding experience for the students involved. “The best feeling on stage is when you can’t continue onto your next joke just yet because you have to wait for your audience to finish laughing at the one you just told,” Kim said. 

If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at comedy, but never knew where to begin, Student Stand-ups is a great place to start, Maranges said.

“People who start fresh with us improve in leaps and bounds. Having a group of experienced, really funny people giving you feedback on how to become better is really helpful,” he said. “All you really need are some ideas you think are funny and the willingness to take feedback and practice.”

The Student Stand-ups of Notre Dame can be reached at standup@nd.edu for those interested in joining or attending an upcoming show.

Contact Brenna Williams at bwillia9@nd.edu