BYU comedy scene more than a funny joke

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Natalie Saunders
BYU students watch as members of Divine Comedy and Humor U have a showdown comedy roast battle. (Natalie Saunders)

BYU comedy isn’t just about the laughs; it’s about a community of like-minded people coming together, according to members of BYU’s Divine Comedy, Humor U and Laugh Out Loud.

Divine Comedy

BYU’s sketch comedy group Divine Comedy (DC), has been getting laughs for 21 years. Those seeking to join the group must audition at the beginning of fall semester. Those who make the cut are then enrolled in a course for credit. Members meet weekly to create the stories, jokes and characters.

“We make jokes while we do stories,” Divine Comedy member Tori Pence said. “It’s storytelling, and that’s fun.”

Natalie Saunders
(From left to right) Sarah Thompson, Tori Pence, and Addison Jenkins in a Divine Comedy skit. (Natalie Saunders)

Being a member of Divine Comedy requires hard work — script writing, practicing twice a week, performing live shows three times a semester — but BYU Divine Comedy advisor Elizabeth Funk says it’s ultimately a rewarding experience.

“It’s kind of like guerrilla theater because they have to learn to do everything,” Funk said. “They want the students that come to have a very positive experience — a way they can just laugh and not feel guilty about things, release some tension, see themselves a little bit and just not take life so seriously.”

During Divine Comedy’s “Best of Show” performance in April of 2015, Kevin Baldwin performed in a skit called “Jurassic Parenting.” Baldwin played the baby dinosaur who had just hatched. Bryson Frehner was the parent dinosaur, trying to teach Baldwin to make a velociraptor call. At one point, Baldwin attempts to mimic Frehner, but instead breaks into song.

“It’s the dumbest thing in the world, but I kid you not, everyone loved it and it was just sort of like one of those off-the-wall, you would never have guessed,” Divine Comedy member Matt Moen said.

Pence sees her involvement in Divine Comedy as more than just a 0.5 credit class that meets twice a week — she sees it as a chance to bring joy to others.

“I do comedy because I want people to be happy, and I love making them laugh and making them have a good time,” Pence said. “It’s just a party time on the stage. The opportunity to get people to laugh is the best thing in the universe.”

Divine Comedy’s next show will be in October. Tickets are $5.

Humor U

Humor U is a stand-up comedy club at BYU, open to anyone wanting to try out some jokes. Humor U President Drew Allen explained stand-up comedy is different from sketch comedy in that it is just one person telling jokes into a microphone. The club has been around for about 10 years and has been growing since its inception.

Natalie Saunders
Humor U member Ian Baenziger tells jokes at the BYU Comedy: Civil War show. (Natalie Saunders)

Something always seems to go wrong within an hour of each Humor U show or during the show, according to its members. Allen explained that in the middle of one of his jokes, the spotlight burned out and had to do the rest of the show with the house lights on.

“It felt like I was standing in someone’s living room telling jokes,” Allen said. “It just kind of like really broke down that barrier between you and the audience. It’s terrifying, but also really exciting. You can see people laughing at the weirdest jokes.”

Allen described Humor U as a group that takes disaster and turns it into a great show.

“I kind of see us as the underdog comedy group on campus in a way, where things go wrong and the odds are stacked against us, but we kind of screw it up and make it work at the same time,” Allen said.

The best part about stand-up is how personal it is, Allen said.

“My favorite thing to do in a joke is when I’m talking about some weird thought and I kind of just push it out there like, ‘Does anyone else know this?'” Allen said.

He said he finds stand-up gives people the space to realize their weird thoughts aren’t much different from the experience of others.

Each week Humor U club members, as well as anyone else wanting to join meet in the Maeser building auditorium to pitch jokes and receive feedback and mentorship.

“On paper there’s no reason we should get along very well, but we do,” Allen said. “There’s like some thread that holds us together.”

Weekly club meetings are held on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. in the Maeser auditorium. Tickets to performances are usually $5.

Laugh Out Loud

Laugh Out Loud is BYU’s improv comedy group, and is open to anyone wanting to join. Each week “players” (those who perform in the shows) and “clubbers” come together to workshop and learn improv games. Clubbers attend weekly meetings and develop guessing, listening and team building skills, Laugh Out Loud player Jason Lyons said. The improv games are meant to teach participants to think on their feet to create hilarious story lines.

Laugh Out Loud puts on a show every month where they perform the games they learn at weekly meetings. Players take feedback from the audience on different situations to incorporate into the games, and then create story lines and characters on the spot.

“They come to the club to learn games and build up confidence, some stage presence, and make friends,” Lyons said.

Character development is another huge part of Laugh Out Loud games. Players have even gone so far as to create Facebook profiles for the characters they portray. Some of the characters that have appeared in shows include a detective that accuses the audience of murder, a Canadian superhero named Sidekick, a professional “bro” and a member of an onion cult.

 

Brendon Wolfe
(From left to right) Tanner Urmston, Samuel Wright and Kevin Johnson performing at a Laugh Out Loud show. (Brendon Wolfe)

Laugh Out Loud is a community of people who enjoy having a good laugh, Lyons said.

“I don’t go because I think I’m funny; it’s because I know the people I’m around are funny,” Lyons said. “For me it’s just (that) I get to go every week and play games and have fun for two hours.”

Laugh Out Loud meetings are Thursdays from 9 p.m. in Room 214 in the Crabtree Technology Building. Shows occur every month. Tickets are $5 but can often be purchased at a discounted $3.

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