Last Laker Standing semi-finalits compete for laughs
Jacob Guajardo has never performed stand-up comedy before. But he is now a semi-finalist in “Last Laker Standing,” competing Feb. 2 against nine other Grand Valley State University comedians for a spot in the finals and to win a top prize.
Although the prizes aren’t known yet, Tim Hartland, comedy committee chair for Spotlight Productions, said they will probably be something of an electronic nature and worth more than $1,000.
“As a student organization, we can’t just give away money,” Hartland said. “We have to get them an actual prize, like a physical prize. We can’t even give them like a gift card.”
The competition became popular at GVSU several years ago after the NBC show “Last Comic Standing” was on TV, Hartland said.
Aric Pike, a junior and semi-finalist, isn’t new to comedy. Pike started GVSU’s comedy club after transferring his sophomore year from Western Michigan University, where he was part of their comedy club.
“…I can’t do anything else really because I have a weak body, so I talked to them, I joined that club and I did that for the first year, and then I transferred here and I started a club here,” he said.
Of the 20 students who auditioned, not all were completely comfortable with stand-up comedy at first – Guajardo doesn’t even like to practice his routine in front of people.
“I practice a lot in the shower actually,” he said. “That’s where I feel like nobody is going to listen to me, like, awkwardly talk to myself, so I get in the shower and like rehearse my entire set to nobody, just the shower.”
While Guajardo has several jokes prepared for the semi-finals, Pike likes to keep his jokes fresh and does not nail down his routine until an hour before the competition.
“I usually, like, look over my jokes and then sometimes I might, like, time myself to make sure that I’m making it in the right amount of time,” Pike said. “I think that’s all I really do.”
Both of the semi-finalists like to draw jokes from their personal experiences.
“I’m gay so I talk about that a lot,” Guajardo said. “I try to debunk some of the myths and stereotypes that there are because that’s really important to me. Like talking about stereotypes, and like, I think the more we talk about them, the less power they have so I have things that I want to talk about.”
He doesn’t keep it all serious, though, by pulling in his knowledge about reality television shows, such as “The Kardashian’s” and “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” or about what it was like living with an older generation.
“I talk a lot about living with my grandparents because I lived with them for a while and so I know a lot about old people, I like to think,” Guajardo said. “So I talk about old people and their habits and how they’re very similar to teenagers in ways.”
Although he will sometimes make up a good story for a good joke, Pike likes to include real jokes about experiences he’s had shopping at Meijer or about his dad watching “Cops.”
“One joke is like me talking about going there to buy fancy condoms, it’s a horrible joke,” Pike said. “And then this other one, there’s like this really weird pharmacist who works there.”
He doesn’t like to spoil all his jokes before performing because it would ruin the whole purpose of people coming out to the semi-finals. But he does hope audiences will laugh, “Either for my jokes or at me, don’t care, either way it works,” Pike said.
The semi-finals are free and begin at 9 p.m. in the Grand River Room inside the Kirkhof Center on GVSU’s Allendale Campus. Five of the 10 semi-finalists will advance to the final round on Feb. 16, to be hosted by Pete Dominick from “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.”
“It would be cool to win it and I just want to do it ‘cuz it’s a good venue to do jokes at Grand Valley,” Pike said.
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