It only felt a little bit like “The Blair Witch Project” at Comedy Night in Science North (building 53) Thursday night, but only because the stage was the front of a lecture hall and the spotlight was three flashlights duct taped together. Regardless, the Cal Poly Comedy Club hosted a comedy night that had everyone bent over hiccuping with laughter.
Approximately 60 students filled the lecture hall for Cal Poly Comedy Club’s first show. Four comedians took to the impromptu stage and sketchy flashlights like pros, hardly worried about the setup. Three of those comedians were local celebrities that had done shows around town: Aiden Candelario, Mike Zalusky and Evan Fox.
Mechanical engineering senior and member of the club Nelson Lin explained Comedy Club was hoping to draw a larger crowd since so many students live on campus and the performers were local.
“Cal Poly is kind of transitioning where they want the students to stay on campus all the time,” Lin said. “On weekends, students are usually on campus, so if students need a place to go for a date night (and) they don’t have a car or they’re just looking for something to do on the weekend, they can come here.”
The Cal Poly Comedy Club is different from Smile and Nod, as it does not focus on improvised comedy, but rehearsed standup.
The comedians that performed on Thursday also included headliner Bryan Kellen from NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.” He commented on everything from the awful sound flip flops make to the inevitable dangers of paintball and the time he took an archery class and nearly lost a nipple in the process.
Every single person was shaking with laughter; the whole room seemed to light up, especially when Kellen performed.
But comedy is not just about making people laugh; it’s about helping people see things in a new light and someone sharing their own views in a way that might be less rash. Industrial engineering junior and president of the club Owais Sarfaraz commented on this unique aspect about comedy.
“Comedy is the ability to see the same things other people see but in a different light,” Sarfaraz said. “If you look at most comedians, all of their comedy is based off of their observations and views, as well as things that we see and do on a daily basis.”
Standup comedians especially draw much of their material from events happening in the world today. Aerospace sophomore and member of the club Sean Reilly mentioned how standup comedians like to engage people with what’s going on in the world.
“It helps people keep up with current events because a lot of the standup comedy that people do is social commentary,” he said.
Comedy Night was no exception and the comedians were constantly engaging the audience by asking them questions and making jokes after the fact. Comedy allows people to see things from another perspective without feeling pushed into it, Reilly said.
“One of the beauties of standup is that you can talk about something and have a really extreme opinion on it and make it funny,” Reilly said. “It’s like an accepted way to say something that might otherwise sound really rude.”
It’s hard to put on a show without offending someone in the room, but according to Sarfaraz, that’s often how comedy works.
At Comedy Night, it was no surprise that a majority of the commentary revolved around college-like themes — sex and drinking. Local comedian and alumnus Evan Fox couldn’t crack a joke without talking about his experience in Yosemite Hall.
Participating in Comedy Night not only helps one brush up on their comedy skills, but it can also be a huge confidence booster.
Lin explained that doing standup helps with public speaking and making conversation.
“It’s great when you first start and you do so much standup because you are bombing for so long,” Lin said. “And you realize there’s nothing that can get worse than this.”
According to Lin, once one gets past those initial trial-and-error runs of testing different jokes and styles of comedy, public speaking and making everyday conversation is a breeze.
“The first few times, you’re going to bomb,” Sarfaraz said. “All great comedians bomb — Will Ferrell, Robin Williams — everybody bombs throughout life, but with practice you can ensure the amount of times you fail decreases and the confidence you show increases.”
Comedy Club is not just limited to standup comedy — all forms are welcome.
“We invite people who prefer written comedy, parodies, sketches, songs — anyone who wants to learn comedy on all aspects,” Sarfaraz said.
Learning comedy and how to make people laugh is more than just cracking jokes; it’s about taking everyday events, interactions and observations and making them your own.
“Things that appear to be normal and mundane, we make them extraordinary,” Sarfaraz said. “And things that appear extraordinary, we make them normal and mundane.”
Lin commented on the rush that happens before a show.
“When you’ve waited multiple hours in the back of a dimly lit comedy club to perform four minutes for like five people who you know are probably going to hate you and you still get this exhilarating feeling from it — it’s how you know that nothing else in the world can compare to it,” Lin said.
The Cal Poly Comedy Club meets Mondays from 7-8 p.m. and is hoping to have shows every month with different lineups. Locations and comedic styles will vary.