So you think you’re funny: How to get involved in campus comedy

Believe it or not, there are plenty of ways to express your comedic self at Columbia. If you are a self-proclaimed comedian or a humor newbie, there are opportunities to get involved with comedy on campus.

Resident comedians Henrietta Steventon, CC ’18, and Shreyas Manohar, CC ’18, dished their tips on establishing yourself in the Columbia comedy scene. So, here’s the down and dirty on getting involved...

Find a path: Regardless of your past experience, there are loads of ways to get involved on campus depending on your interests, including (but not limited to) stage acting, sketch comedy, stand up, and improv.

Stage acting

To dabble in dramatic, theatrical writing, Latenite, NOMADS, and XMAS! are all opportunities to show your creative side.

Latenite is a great way to get your feet wet in the theater scene. For you Columbia theater newbies, Latenite produces an anthology of student-written plays every semester. The 2016 Fall Anthology runs from Dec. 8 to 10 at 11 p.m. They will be accepting submissions for the Spring Anthology in January and holding auditions in early February, so keep your eye on the Facebook page for updates on tickets, auditions, and upcoming performances.

NOMADS already performed username and Ooh Kill ’Em is debuting on Nov. 19. The group is Barnard-based and accepts student-written play and musical submissions. For instance, last semester, NOMADS produced an original Hillary Clinton jukebox musical exclusively featuring Taylor Swift songs. Inspired yet?

XMAS! debuts in December the week before finals. It’s seen as the Varsity Show’s mini-precursor that preps cast and crew for the bigger production of V Show in the spring.

Varsity Show is by far the most time-consuming student production of the year and a great way to make connections. Fun fact: Roger and Hammerstein wrote the Varsity Show in 1920, and a V Show alum, Brandon Victor Dixon, is now playing Aaron Burr in Hamilton on Broadway. Auditions for the creative team (writers, directors, choreographers, etc.) are over, but follow their Facebook to keep tabs on auditions that are held in December.

Comedy comedy comedy

Sketch comedy

Are writing and performing sketches more your style? CU (No Budget) Sketch Show (aka CUSS) or Chowdah may be right up your alley.

CUSS publishes student-written, -acted, and -produced video sketches every week. They won’t be holding auditions until the second semester, but in the meantime you can binge watch CUSS’s YouTube channel to tide you over until January.

Meanwhile, if a live audience gets ya going, Chowdah produces original student-written material on stage. They usually only hold auditions in September, not January, but you can always check out a show to scope them out first.

Improv comedy

Not a fan of memorizing lines? Fancy yourself a bullshit artist who makes things up on the spot in discussion section? Columbia’s got three improv groups going on: Fruit Paunch, Control Top, and Third Wheel Improv. While Fruit Paunch and Third Wheel are co-ed, Control Top is “all-female, female, female.” All three groups perform frequently every semester and usually audition every September. Third Wheel will be having auditions next semester, but you’ll have to wait until September for Fruit Paunch and Control Top.

Comedic writing

If writing is your main bae, Jester of Columbia or The Federalist are lol-able publications that are open to anyone, anytime. Jester is a humor magazine and takes online submissions whenever your heart desires. The Federalist is a satirical newspaper and hosts open weekly meetings every Sunday in Math 203 at 8:30 p.m.

And hey, if you wanna be funny, but also gain some sought-after (cries dying industry) journalism skills, there’s always Spectrum (shameless plug), which accepts writers at the beginning of every semester. Spectrum, however, only accepts applicants at the beginning of each semester.

Stand-up comedy

In an attempt to establish more of a structure to comedy culture at Columbia, Henrietta and Shreyas are curating regularly occurring stand-up shows called SSO-lol. The semester will be dotted with auditions. SSO-lol debuted at Postcrypt last Friday with improv group, Control Top. If you’re interested in participating in the future, email Shreyas.

Olivia Rodrigues, BC ’19, and Jonah Gould, CC ’18, are doing a similar thing with their Monday night stand-up shows, Memento Mori. Having performed their first set last Monday also in the basement of Postcrypt, they’re looking to showcase diverse comedic voices from on and off campus.

And on one final note...

Make connections

Starting early and making connections with people within the comedy community is key to establishing yourself. Getting involved in as much as you can early on will only help you move up the ladder. Group involvement and spectatorship helps you develop a personal style and expertise.

If you establish yourself as a comedic voice on campus, people will recognize you for opportunities down the road. Shreyas and Henrietta even scored a show at the Gotham Comedy Club through a friend who interned there the summer before, so you never know.

Know of other ways to get involved on campus? Comment down below, tweet us, or Snapchat us @CUspectrum.

Shulie Weinberg is a Barnard first-year and trainee Spectrum staff writer. She laughs a lot at her own jokes and is thoroughly impressed by anyone who can tell jokes to other people. Reach her at reassure her that she is as funny as she thinks she is.


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