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Make 'Em Laugh

Student stand-up comedians struggle and succeed with an isolating art.

Syracuse University senior Matt Harris knows his roots as a stand-up comedian.

“I’m a big fan of George Carlin,” Harris said.  “I wish I could write like him, and I try, but nobody writes like Carlin.”

Harris is a leader of the Woo-Hoo Comedy Club at SU, and he’s been performing stand-up comedy since his sophomore year.  He said he got into stand up after a girl told him he was funny at a party.

“I was pretty bombed, and she was like, ‘You should try stand-up,'” Harris said.  “I thought, ‘Hey, why not?’”

Sophomore Tyler Gildin has been doing sketch comedy for a long time, but once he got to college, he decided to try the more individual style of stand-up comedy.

“I’ve been writing funny things down since my sophomore year of high school,” Gildin said.  “Once I got to college, I just decided to give it a shot.”

The isolation on-stage is a tough opponent for stand-up comedians, who must rely wholly on themselves and their material to get laughs.  Harris said the problem is exacerbated when the audience is smaller.

“If you don’t have a big crowd, people seem nervous to laugh,” Harris said.  “Nobody wants to be laughing alone.”

Gildin said stand-up comedians must tailor their material to their audience.

“I wouldn’t perform the same stuff at a frat party as I would at a nursing home,” Gildin said

For both Harris and Gildin (and many others), stand-up comedy is a fun and exciting activity, and maybe even a career.

“I’m going to get a day job in New York City,” Harris said.  “Then, hopefully, I’ll get a night job writing comedy, and get far enough that I can quit my day job.”

Like Harris, Gildin said he hopes to continue doing stand-up comedy in the future.

“I’m going to be in comedy and entertainment for as long as I can,” Gildin said.  “Until people throw stuff at me and I stop.”

Not so funny

I didn't laugh that much at either of these guys.

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