GVSU comedy club to perform political satire stand-up

By Nicole Bobb | 10/9/16 11:36pm

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GVL / Courtesy - Free Speech Stand-up Comedy Club

by Free Speech Stand-up Comedy Club / Grand Valley Lanthorn

Midterms at Grand Valley State University are right around the corner and most students across campus could use a good laugh.

The Free Speech Stand-up club at GVSU will host a political performance called “Make Grand Valley Laugh Again” Thursday, Oct. 13 at 9 p.m. in the Cook-DeWitt Center.

This free event will feature GVSU student performers share an original stand-up routine focusing political satire.

“We do an hour set and what we do is divide that among the performers that want to perform and we usually cap out at about nine (performers),” Free Speech Stand-up president Chris Barnwood said.

The performance will differ from any other stand-up event the group has done, mostly due to the controversial content that will be presented during each routine.

“It’s going to be interesting because the comics are encouraged to do political jokes, which we really haven’t done too many of, even in the first two shows of the year," student performer Tim Harkins said. "I think there’s been a little bit of a mention of Trump, but I don’t think there’s been a joke revolving around it, so it’ll be interesting to see what we come up with."

Barnwood said the world of comedy, including Free Speech Stand-up, must take to heart the politically correct nature of society. Sometimes, coming up with jokes can be a struggle. Content viewed as funny for some may be offensive to others in the audience. The members of Free Speech Stand-up try their best not to take their jokes too far.

“Myself and other comedians sometimes do find that we censor ourselves for fear that I may be looking for a job someday and an employer is going to see that video and the joke I did where I talk about (something that they find offensive and decide they can’t) have a guy like that in the office," Barnwood said.

The group aims to do a show on the second Thursday of every month at the Cook-DeWitt Center. Each show tends to revolve around a relevant theme. The theme for this performance was an easy one to come up with since the upcoming presidential election is one of the most talked about topics around the U.S. The next stand-up show, which will be held Thursday, Nov. 10, will feature jokes about midterms, exams and the holidays. The group is also partnering with the Mary Idema Pew Library in December as part of the exam cram activities.

For those interested in what the group has to offer, Free Speech Stand-up is always open to new suggestions and performers.

“We have meetings where we’ll let you just pitch a joke to us and we’ll tell you what’s working and what’s not," Harkins said. "So, anyone who’s interested in comedy, you don’t have to be interested in going on stage, but just writing jokes, or we could even do sketches too if you wanted–anything with humor. You can find out more about the club on Facebook and we’ll post meeting (information) on that.”

Overall, the Free Speech Stand-up club strives to help students forget about classes and assignments for a while and have a good time.

"We aim to really get students to laugh and there are a lot of students who really have never experienced stand-up comedy before,” Barnwood said. “There’s only six to 10 performers, so everyone has their own style. We try not to put any filter. Comedy is such an intimate thing, the comedian is directly communicating with the audience. In plays, most people sit there in silence and sort of absorb what the performers are doing. The comedian uses the response of the audience in real time.”

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