The Daily Gamecock

Comedy Competition crowns funniest student at USC

On Monday night, six students competed in Russell House Theater to be named the funniest student at USC. An easily engaged audience welcomed Joel Kim Booster, a professional comedian and host of the event. Many students were there to support competing friends, while others attended out of curiosity or because they had an admiration for stand-up comedy. 

Stand-up differs from other types of comedy because the performers often have to think on their feet and gage audience reaction. Yet, the spontaneity and unpredictability seemed to be part of the appeal for the students who came out to watch the show. 

Carey Burgess, a first-year broadcast journalism major, heard about the event through a professor who was one of the judges for the night. “It’s definitely a lot quicker, the jokes just keep coming,” Burgess said when asked about the draw of stand-up comedy versus that of sitcoms or movies. “And so I like that, it just keeps you laughing the whole time.” 

Stand-up comedians also have the liberty to cross lines and make light of issues that would be considered more serious in a typical social situation, and the contestants took full advantage of this artistic freedom. Each came from varying levels of experience and had different backgrounds from which to pull comedic material. 

Chandni Amin, a first-year computer science major, prefers stand-up to more generic types of comedy partly for this reason. “It’s just more personal, honestly, because most of the time in stand-up you’re talking about stories or experiences.” 

The contestants had about five minutes each to deliver their sets to the audience and leave lasting impressions on the three judges. Audience reaction contributed both to the scoring system and to the light-hearted mood of the event. The audience showed much love for all of the student comedians, clapping and cheering when they thought something was particularly funny or a maybe bit unexpected.

After the judging panel deliberated, they awarded runner-up to Ryan Easterbrooks, a library science graduate student. Easterbrooks expressed gratitude for the student support at last night’s competition.

“I appreciate all the students coming out, and I’d like to see more of that. So as the big comedians come in, just make sure that everyone goes to these shows so they can keep happening.”

Easterbrooks first got into stand-up comedy about three years ago when his girlfriend broke up with him and he decided to take on a new hobby. Incidentally, that ex-girlfriend is now his fiancée. 

But it was Phillip Carter, a fourth-year marketing major, who walked away with the first place award: bragging rights and a “golden ticket” which he can use to meet celebrities that come to USC in the future. 

“Definitely big props to Carolina Productions putting this together, and they’re awesome at promoting and organizing these events,” he said after the competition. 

Carolina Productions helped Carter get involved in comedy in the first place when they hosted an open-mic night in Russel House Bookstore about three years ago. Now a seasoned comedian, Carter has performed at various locations around Columbia including New Brookland Tavern and Art Bar. 

The comedic champion of the night also had some words of advice for USC students interested in pursuing stand-up. 

“If anybody wants to try comedy, I definitely recommend doing it through the school,” Carter said. “You’re just in front of people who are the same age as you and they are the most easy to relate to.”