Comedy + charity = the stand-up thing to do with Georgetown Comedy for a Cause

November 2, 2023

Courtesy of Zan Haq

The Leavey Center was so quiet it would have been easy to miss the event if you weren’t looking for it. Besides the mice that take over the building at night, the only thing of interest seemed to be a sign leading toward Bulldog Alley. But if you took a turn past Crop Chop, inside the Alley was anything but quiet and boring. Comedians filled the stage with their presence, while audience members buzzed with energy, at the first-ever stand-up showcase on Georgetown’s campus.

Thus began Georgetown Comedy for a Cause’s inaugural show, hosted on Oct. 7 in Bulldog Alley. After seeing the success of this show, the organization has made plans to host an on-campus showcase of stand-up comedians monthly and to dedicate the proceeds to various nonprofit endeavors on campus. Hosted by Four Corners Entertainment producer Brock Snyder and Georgetown organizers Zan Haq (SFS ’24) and David Edwards (CAS ’24), the event featured a lineup of 11 comedians: four students and seven professional comedians from the D.C. comedy scene. The show was free for students with donations encouraged, and with about 90 people attending the inaugural showcase, the event was able to raise approximately $160 for Georgetown Rangila’s Action Against Hunger fundraiser.

Top-tier local comedy, an accessible introduction to the stand-up scene in D.C., supporting other students, and giving to a good cause all add up to an exciting new opportunity for audience members and aspiring comedians alike, and organizer Zan Haq agrees.

“We really want to build up the comedy community at Georgetown,” Haq wrote in an email to the Voice. “Standup is pretty hard to break into because it requires going out into the city and finding the logistics behind mics. We hope by fostering a community through this showcase we can make standup more accessible.”

The comedians delivered diverse sets which drew raucous laughter from the audience throughout the show. Some sets this time around were delivered with deadpan seriousness (one such set included a joke about being mistaken for a creep on a plane), while others were given with almost overwhelmingly high energy (like twerking on the wall during a bit about having sex with a police officer). Puns and tall tales rounded out the jokes. The showcase covered a wide variety of topics, including everyday problems for non-binary people, being broken up with, baking cookies, and masturbation.

While the sets were received well overall, some topics such as the aforementioned masturbation bit were met with slight discomfort and hesitation from the audience, and generally, jokes that relied very heavily on sex didn’t seem to land consistently. However, relationships weren’t off the table: about four sets significantly featured men explaining their woes in the dating scene, which quickly turned somewhat repetitive to me but were well received by the audience. My favorite joke in the show, which did not get nearly enough of a reaction, was told by Ashlyn Kunerth (CAS ‘24): “I’m going to law school, which some people just call choir. You know. Law-law-law-law-law-law-law,” she sang.

Many of the D.C. comedians attempted to connect with the crowd by mentioning “back when I was in college” or trying to call on school spirit by trashing other schools and referencing Georgetown-specific sentiments, but frankly this saw very limited success as they simply didn’t know enough about Georgetown to actually succeed. Stretching to be relatable relied on the audience reacting in a certain way when prompted in order to lead into a joke—but the audience didn’t always react as expected, making transitions into sets awkward. In my experience doing improv comedy, I’ve seen this unreliable strategy used to warm up the crowd, but given the rapid-fire format of the showcase people were already primed for the next set. However, given that this was the first show, it’s certainly understandable that performers wouldn’t have known this. And the showcase is a space for people, especially students, to learn and grow in their comedic abilities, so it’s no great crime that this strategy (which I have seen used successfully before) didn’t always work this time around.

Stand-up requires a lot of focus and practice to remember the entirety of a set and deliver it in the correct tone, so a distracting environment can be difficult. But even with a physical gap in the stage platforms inhibiting movement and the stage lights turning purple seemingly at random, the comedians brought the audience along for the ride. Haq, Edwards, and Snyder all performed, plus students Isabella Williams (SFS ’24) and Ashlyn Kunerth. Alongside Georgetown students, performers from the D.C. community Rebecka Green, Victor Gonzales, Owen Vacheron, Jack Coleman, Keith Correy, and Kylie Lowe also showcased their talents.

The inception of the event was fairly spontaneous, seamlessly bringing together comedians from on and off-campus. “David and I were just talking about running a Georgetown show at an open mic bar a few months ago,” Haq wrote. “Brock overheard us and offered to lend us his producing experience to help run the show.”

This is just the beginning for Georgetown Comedy for a Cause. “We now hope to run this showcase monthly and make it bigger every time,” Haq wrote. Two more shows are scheduled for Nov. 4 in the McShain Lounge and for Dec. 4 in the ICC auditorium. Each will feature a 10-person lineup—half of the performers will be Georgetown students and the other half will be community comics.

The organization is enthusiastic to find more student performers looking to try something new for their upcoming shows. “If you have ever aspired to try out stand-up comedy, look no further,” Haq wrote.

The group’s Instagram, @georgetowncomedyforacause, and promotional flyers with additional information will be put up around campus near showtime, announcing the upcoming lineup.

Overall, the show was a resounding success that left audience members chattering with exuberance. The format of a stand-up comedy showcase means that Georgetown Comedy for a Cause will remain unpredictable, with new jokes and comedians making it an exciting surprise every time. Giving opportunities for D.C. comics and students to perform and giving the student body a clearer way to get into the comedy scene as an audience worked very well, and with donating to nonprofits, too? I can’t wait to see it, and the comedy scene at Georgetown, grow.

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