Students had the opportunity to perform original stand-up this Tuesday in the Chamberlain Student Center Pit at the fifth annual Laugh Off Comedy Competition run by Student University Programmers (SUP).
Fourteen comedians competed for first place, which awarded the winner $300 in Rowan Bucks as well as the opportunity to open for the improv group “Second Place Champions” this coming Saturday at Rowan After Hours.
At the beginning of the show, the master of ceremonies Josue Johnson, a senior radio, television and film major, introduced the judges and the rules for the competition. Each comedian had five minutes to make the audience laugh.
They were judged on content, personality and crowd reaction. Comedians were asked to refrain from using obscene profanity and making jokes at students’ expenses.
Comedians covered a variety of topics, including the upcoming election, Halloween, family and Rowan.
Many pulled from experiences they’ve had in their life, including senior elementary education major Kyle Hamilton, winner of the Laugh Off last year.
Hamilton told the audience about his internal struggle regarding donating money to feed starving children or using the money to buy a burger at Wendy’s.
He got the inspiration for the joke after seeing a Wendy’s advertisement directly after watching a commercial asking for monetary donations to help feed people in foreign countries.
“Stuff just happens to me,” Hamilton said.
Melissa D’Alia, a sophomore biomedical engineering major, also based her comedy on her life, sharing her experiences as a single person.
“I thought I had enough material for a five-minute skit and I thought things people have said to me were so funny so I thought I’d share that,” D’Alia said. “I’m happy I got people to laugh because that’s all that really matters.”
Hamilton, who has been doing stand-up for four years, is a veteran compared to some of the other comedians, some who signed up for the competition without any material planned.
“The day after I signed up, I started writing jokes,” said Nate Jones, a junior radio, television and film major. “It’s the first time I’ve tried [stand-up]. I honestly thought I was going to bomb. I didn’t think it was going to go very well, but it was an excellent experience.”
At the end of the night, Hamilton reclaimed his title as first place. Sophomore music major Steven Solkela won $200 in Rowan Bucks for second place and sophomore history major Patrick O’Hare Barrows won $100 in Rowan Bucks for third place.
“We had some really strong acts,” Johnson said. “A lot of them were really good when it came setting up a joke and timing. Timing is really hard to get right in comedy.”
Audience members such as freshman marketing major Ally Salus also appreciated the amateur comedy of their peers.
“My friend was performing so we came out to support him,” Salus said. “It was a lot better than I expected. Stand-up is really hard and the people tonight were really good.”
Sophomore music industry major Devon Dyer, the director of live events for SUP and head of the event, was happy with the outcome and attendance of the event.
“I hope people got the opportunity to take a break from classes, midterms and studying and just laugh,” said Dyer. “That’s the entire point of the event: get students out here, get them happy and have a good time.”
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