While Ohio State has several improv comedy groups, one club on campus tackles comedy from a different approach.
The Buckeye Standup Comedy Club utilizes meetings and “joke workshops” to help members practice their comedy bits and become more comfortable onstage in front of crowds before performing, said Dave Johnson, club member and fourth-year in a personalized study program combining film and theatre.
“Sometimes when people come to the workshop, they’re unsure about their material because they don’t think it’ll be good enough but the whole point of the workshop is to sharpen each other’s jokes (and) make each other better,” Johnson said.
Although performing original jokes in front of a group of strangers can be intimidating at first, the Buckeye Standup Comedy Club provides the simplest way to get involved and learn comedy, said current Buckeye Standup Comedy Club President Mike Franke, a third-year graduate student in dentistry.
“This is the easiest route into doing stand-up you could ask for,” Franke said. “You can come and do the joke workshops for a month or two if you want and then have that confidence that you know those jokes are going to work when you get out up in front of a crowd at a random place.”
Even for students who have never tried comedy in any form, Kyle Tolliver, the club’s treasurer and fourth-year in biomath, said the first step is the hardest, but it gets easier the more students come out with new material and practice it.
“There’s a huge moment of inertia when you start,” Tolliver said. “You gotta get up the first time … Come with some ideas and just listen and learn and change those ideas.”
Once members feel confident in their jokes and material, they can start participating in one of the shows the club holds three times a month.
“We do shows twice monthly on campus here in the (Ohio) Union and also one show each month in Donatos,” Franke said.
Members enjoy this aspect of the club, Johnson said, mentioning that these shows are free for students and allow club members to share their comedic expertise in a high-energy environment. Johnson also said the shows are consistently exciting and entertaining for the comedians and audience members because of the great mood surrounding all performances.
“The atmospheres of the shows are awesome because whoever shows up, you get a crowd that’s wanting to see comedy so you want to put on a good show and deliver great material for them,” Johnson said. “The energy is always high. We’re always just trying to entertain and have a good time.”
Tolliver said the reason for this high energy is the audience is made up of almost entirely college students.
“From my experience, college crowds are usually the best crowds,” Tolliver said. “You might go out to like the bar or something and talk about certain topics that older people may not understand or care about but I’ve found that for college students, doing comedy in front of other college students is usually where they get the most laughs.”
These shows not only give club members the chance to perform their stand-up bits but also to invite other local comedians and out-of-town performers to share the stage as headliners, Franke said.
“We do a format and try to keep it to an hour and a half,” Franke said. “We usually have eight performers doing five- to six-minute sets and then either a headliner doing 30 minutes or two co-headliners doing 15 to 20.”
Franke said with the addition of the club there is now a format for more types of comedy on campus. Although the Buckeye Standup Comedy Club began fairly recently, with its first show in Morrill Tower in winter 2012, the amount of shows and number of members have greatly increased in the past two years, Franke said.
“We’ve since picked up speed (since we began),” Franke said. He said the club has about 30 members, with around 20 that regularly come to meetings.
The shared pursuit in comedy and making people laugh is what binds the group and creates a fun and enjoyable environment, Franke said.
“I really enjoy just being around other people who have the same interest in stand-up,” Franke said. “Everybody’s trying to help each other do the same thing: get funnier. So that’s always a blast.”
Johnson also said he values the camaraderie with other members.
The club has its next show Friday at 8 p.m. in the Cartoon Room of the Ohio Union.