The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Comedy Night done right: DePaul Activities Board hosts Student Comedy Nights

In the Brownstone Annex Tuesday night, after the lights dimmed and the stage lit up, amateur comedians ranted on subjects ranging from port-a-potty advertising to the curious lack of denim colors and government conspiracies behind the Kennedy assassination.

“Anyone can walk up there and say whatever’s on their mind,” Shannon Daly, who coordinated the event, said. “We tell everyone who signs up to keep it PG-13, but that rarely sticks.”

Several times a year, the DePaul Activities Board (DAB) puts on Student Comedy Nights, which emphasize improvisation and theatrical technique, where aspiring comedians and anyone else with something to say can come on and rant for eight minutes.

“It’s an intimate setting with usually about 15 to 25 people in the audience,” Daly, the DAB comedy director, said. “It doesn’t seem or feel like a lot of people, but when you get up there it’s a lot more intimidating.”

Twenty-four students stayed for the show, which ran little more than an hour.

Daly said this event is for students in two ways: one is to come relax for a free show and the other is to inspire you to get up there and perform.

“It’s a great venue for comedians to practice and you don’t have to be a DePaul student to come perform,” Daly said. “The philosophy behind this event is theatrics. Stand-up comedy is theatre in the present. It’s an art form.”

Six comedians took the stage to perform in front of friends, fellow comedians and passersby shuffling in to stop and see what the hubbub was about.

Devin Asperger, a freshman playwriting major, was first to perform. Some of his theatrics included accents and pantomimes. He said he wasn’t nervous.

He becomes a performer under the stage name “Devin J.”

“It was really interesting to open the night cold like that because I was the first called,” Asperger said. “Eight minutes is a huge spot to fill, usually I prepare for about four minutes, which is around three quick routines. You want a laugh every 15 or 20 seconds.”

Asperger said comedy is an intricate science, which might look effortless when performed, but really takes a lot of practice to make look natural.

“You put a joke into natural conversation with a friend,” Asperger said. “Then, you try it in a few more conversations. Then you try it on stage. On a night like this (Tuesday night) you showcase your best jokes.”

Asperger’s signature routine was a skewering of the limitations of denim, performed in a rough New Jersey accent.

“How about a material that’s not only uncomfortable, but gets too hot in the summer, is surprisingly too cold for winter weather, and fits awfully?” Asperger jokingly asked the audience. “Oh-and only blue. We will cover every shade of blue, but no other colors.”

Student Comedy Night attracts comedians outside of the DePaul community too.

Mike Shapiro, 25, a DePaul graduate, revisited his alma mater to practice his routine, which started with a reference to the silver terminators in the old Capri-Sun ads from the ’90s.

He also gave a detailed description of what happens when one eats an entire roll of Bubble Tape-a 6-foot roll up of gum in a round package.

He compared it to childbirth. “You have to go places that are uncomfortable but real,” Shapiro said. “I started commenting on little life things that happened to me and all the sudden I thought, this could be comedy.”

Shapiro said after he graduated he started his pursuit of stand-up comedy. He performs every Wednesday night at Bar Forza, 2476 N. Lincoln Ave. at 7 pm. Admission is free.

“It’s hard to get up on stage,” Shapiro said. “But you get used to it. It’s rewarding to make people laugh. I love it.”

Shapiro said a sober audience is harder to entertain “Drunk people laugh more,” Shapiro said.

Shapiro brought his friend, Alex Seligsohn, 25, a fellow comedian, to the event.

“There’s no alcohol served at DePaul and that makes a big difference,” Seligsohn said. “It’s also hard to have to watch your swearing when you’re up there performing and getting lost in it. This was a tougher audience.”

Shapiro and Seligsohn were on their way to another comedy club to get another set in. They are members of the Chicago Department of Comedy organization, which is a club of comedians.

Some bombed, some “killed it,” and most left happy to have indulged in theatre in the raw.

Asperger said he had a successful routine. He received positive feedback from the crowd.

“It was fun but I’m not done tonight,” Asperger said. “Off to another club to get another set in. Such is the life of an aspiring comedian.”

Asperger, Shapiro and Seligsohn folded up their notes, pocketed them and jetted off to other clubs.

The Annex cleared out and became a place of studying and quiet conversation again.

Daly was one of the last to leave and said she was happy with the successful turnout and the theatrics of the event.

“Anytime anything is live it’s going to get a little crazy,” Daly said. “We expect the best and prepare for the worst. The microphone was iffy tonight but the acoustics were great.”

One comedian asked mid-set, “Can I swear? I need to swear for this material to work.”

The next joke out of his mouth was a vague reference to his morning rituals and why his right hand was in a bandage.

“That’s open mike night,” Daly said. “Anything goes.”

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