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Student comedian performs in LaughFest for the second time

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Photo: Laine Girard / Grand Valley Lanthorn

Grand Valley student and Comedian Jacob Guarjardo performs at the Wealthy Theatre for Laugh Fest. GVL / Laine Girard

The comedy career for Grand Valley State University student Jacob Guajardo began on an impulse. In 2012, Guajardo decided to audition for Spotlight Production’s Last Laker Standing competition and try comedy for the first time.

“He had some of the best performances during that competition that I have ever seen from any student comedian in my years at GVSU,” said Tim Hartland, president of Spotlight Productions. “He easily won the competition that year and was overwhelmingly the crowd favorite.”

The crown of victory came with more than the advertised 50-inch flat screen TV prize — Guajardo also was awarded recognition from the comedic community. A creative writing and gender studies double major at GVSU, Guajardo has since been seen performing in several shows on campus and in Grand Rapids. His performances include an opening set for the fall semester’s comedian Hal Sparks and, most recently, “Our Diversity Show” as a part of LaughFest.

“I actually first saw Jacob when I stopped by the Last Laker Standing competition back in the fall of 2012,” said award-winning director, writer and comedian Joe Anderson. “I was there to see another friend perform. I was just really impressed by how solid Jacob’s set was. He was very new to it but his voice was so strong and his jokes were great.”

Anderson, a LaughFest comedian, invited Guajardo to perform at last year’s LaughFest, and following a well-received performance, he decided to invite the student back for LaughFest 2014.

“He killed it, so when I was helping put together a different show for LaughFest 2014, I obviously wanted to see if Jacob could do it again,” Anderson said. “So many people are doing stand-up relentlessly who probably shouldn’t be, that when you meet someone who should definitely keep at it, I think it’s important to let them know.”

On March 15, Guajardo took the stage at the Wealthy Theatre for “Our Diversity Show.” The show featured other comedians such as Sarah Jean Anderson, Don’t We Boys, Jan Griffith, DK Hamilton, Dave Jones, Ben Wilke and Marc Yaffee.

“It was such a great crowd. There was an open bar, so I think that might have influenced how people reacted,” Guajardo said. “All the comedians in the group did a good job. There (were) a lot of local comedians there that I knew and I look up to because they have been in the game a lot longer than I have.”

Performing with some of his comedian idols came with a bit of nerves, but newly 21-year-old Guajardo said that with a little liquid courage he was ready to perform and even worked his way through a joke that was not appreciated by the audience.

“I made a pretty terrible joke about red heads, like not in a negative way, but nobody laughed,” Guajardo said. “I had (written) it the same day and I thought, ‘I will just throw it in there.’ They laughed when I said I wrote it that day and it flopped.”

Although the joke didn’t impress, Guajardo continued on to finish his set to a raucous audience. With two years of LaughFest under his belt and countless new experiences, he said he hopes to be invited back in the years to come.

“I had only done stand-up like once or twice the first time I got asked to do it (LaughFest), so it has motivated me to do a lot more things with my time and has introduced me to a lot of different people in Grand Rapids,” Guajardo said. “It is a very interesting opportunity, especially since LaughFest is huge in the community. It made me feel a lot more a part of the community than anything I have ever done before.”



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