The then and now of BYU comedy

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Keeping comedy clean and funny can be difficult, but BYU comedy groups have known this struggle for 20 years and continue to entertain their humor-hungry audience.

The Garren's Comedy Troupe, including now popular actor Lincoln Hoppe located on the far right, are considered the original BYU comedy troupe.
Some of the first Garren’s Comedy Troupe performers, including actors Lincoln Hoppe on the right and Daryn Tufts in the back left from the movie “The Singles Ward.” (Photo courtesy Daryn Tufts)

With a university starving for comic relief, the first comedy troupe at BYU to fulfill these cravings was the Garren’s Comedy Troupe. Starting as a club back in 1993, Garren’s met their audiences’ comedy needs by holding at least one show every weekend for eight years straight.

Garren’s Troupe attracted the attention of the new BYU student Daryn Tufts, who still remembers some of his first impressions of the group and what they were providing for BYU.

“I was amazed that the Garren’s were there to comment on BYU culture and thought, ‘This group is for us.'”

The founder of the Garren’s Comedy Troupe was a freshman named Eric Snider. Snider’s first thoughts of comedy at BYU were, “BYU doesn’t strike you as a place that would have a lot of fun with satire and poking fun.” When contemplating why his group was so successful, Snider said, “I think it caught on because we were making the same kind of BYU-related jokes but on public stage.”

Seeing BYU culture on the public stage seemed to be just what students were looking for. Lincoln Hoppe was a writer, director and performer for BYU’s first comedy troupe. Hoppe is well known for staring in movies such as “Singles Ward” and “Saints and Soldiers: Airborne Creed.”

Hoppe’s perspective of the success of comedy at BYU is, “Students need to walk away from their class at some point. They not only needed to get away, they needed to laugh.”

The unique BYU comedy formula of good clean humor continues to influence Hoppe in his professional career.

“Doing so many shows and for so long and making so many people laugh created a confidence that comedy can be clean,” he said.

Though the Garren’s Comedy Troupe ended 12 years ago, its influence has carried on to today’s BYU comedy groups. Humor U’s former president and current performer Aaron Woodall is still aware of the Garren’s and their patriarchy in BYU comedy.

“I do appreciate that they are the grandfathers of BYU comedy and the ones that started everything. Starting out at BYU has forced me to write 100 percent clean comedy,” Woodall said.

Woodall sees an extra amount of enthusiasm and energy from his BYU audience comparative to other audiences he has performed for. “At BYU, people come and are ready to laugh. I am really grateful to perform at BYU.”

Divine Comedy
Divine Comedy cast and crew from 2013 including some Studio C performers. (Photo courtesy Stephen Meek)

Along with Humor U, Divine Comedy and Studio C are also continuing this legacy of clean humor, providing popular comic relief sources for BYU students.

“It’s motivating to have a fan base that looks to clean comedy and holds us to that standard,” said¬†Stacey Harkey, a performer in both groups.

With history showing clean comedy as a perfect match for BYU culture, Harkey said, “As more people demand clean comedy greater quality will come.”

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