According to Dr. Charlie Mitchell, assistant professor in the School of Theatre + Dance and instructor of UF’s new Comedy Practice class, the truth is in the laughter. On Oct. 21, 2014 there was plenty of truth to go around as the class presented its first stand-up comedy show at Hippodrome Cinema in Gainesville, Florida.
Twenty-four students participated in the show, with 12 performing a three-minute set at 7 p.m. and the remaining students performing at 9 p.m. The cinema was filled to capacity for both performances and numerous guests were turned away at the door.
Twenty-year-old telecommunication sophomore Chase Jones said performing in the show was an extremely rewarding experience. “It made me want to do it again,” Jones said.
Some students such as theatre sophomore Abigail Friedman were nervous about the performance. “You feed off that energy,” said Friedman of the joy she got hearing the audience's laughter.
Stephen Rosenfield, director of the American Comedy Institute in New York, visited the School of Theatre + Dance as a guest artist-in-residence for a week to work with the students and shape their ideas into a format for stand-up comedy.
Mitchell compares jumping into comedy like bungee jumping—there’s no middle ground. “It’s a wonderful way to face your fears.”
Friedman said she discovered her love of comedy after participating in an independent student-run comedy show last year, but would have never done stand-up if the class had not provided her with the opportunity. Both students were happy to be part of the new class, which filled up quickly, according to Mitchell.
While different comedy groups exist on campus such as Theatre Strike Force and Generation Sketch Comedy, within the UF curriculum, the School of Theatre + Dance had only offered two levels of improvisation classes before the new comedy class was created. According to Mitchell, the Comedy Practice class allows students to explore the ideas they develop from improv.
“Comedy fills a need in society to develop both a critical body of thought and research around one of the basic elements of social life,” said Bill Hohns, who, along with his wife, Kathie, has taken an enthusiastic interest in supporting the growth of a comedy initiative at UF.
The Comedy Practice class will again take the stage this Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. when they will present a Sketch Comedy Show at Digital Worlds Institute at UF. Since seating is limited, the show will be streamed live at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/digitalworldsLIVE.