cornell comedy fest

Courtesy of Cornell Comedy

October 20, 2019

Cornell Hosts Inaugural Comedy Festival

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Groups like the Whistling Shrimp, the Skits and many others have been eliciting laughter from Cornellians for decades, just like the various troupes at many other colleges. These groups across campuses would sometimes come into contact with each other, but have seldom performed together at a joint event … until now. For the first time ever, the Cornell Comedy Festival took place over two nights in the Statler Hall auditorium. Troupes from Cornell, Skidmore College, SUNY Binghamton, Tufts University, the University of Delaware, Columbia and Barnard were in attendance.

“This is something that the comedy community here has been talking about doing at Cornell for a really long time, since before I even started here,” said Alexander Newman ’20, the president of the Whistling Shrimp and main organizer of the festival. He went on to remark that the preparation for this festival began as far in advance as last December. Those many hours of planning have now paid off, and what a glorious final product they became.

Highlights from the festival include the Sketchies from Skidmore College recreating a yoga class turned Satanic ritual, Cornell’s own Midnight Comedy Troupe dramatizing disabled dogs and refrigerator deaths (“the ice is melting!”) and the Whistling Shrimp using a suggestion of “food” to revisit the story of Adam and Eve. There were also a number of professional performers, all of whom crafted very clever and humorous routines. Mark Vigeant ’11 induced uproarious laughter at every turn with various websites, videos and falling laptops. North Coast Hip-Hop Improv transformed various scenarios about compost, and Mary Beth Barone, a New York-based comedian, made a wry but endearing routine about her daily life. Finally OSFUG Sketch Comedy, a group comprised of various Cornell alumni, performed an eclectic group of sketches ranging from screwball comedy to slightly darker fare.

For Newman and the rest of the Cornell comedy community, these signs have validated months of hard work. However, the success of the festival also affirms a vital part of the entire Cornell community: the level of affection this university harbors for our many comedy groups. While he is quite happy with this year’s reception of the festival, Newman particularly hopes that it becomes a mainstay within Cornell’s long list of traditions and events. “When I’m dead and gone next year, this had better not stop — I’m going to start training the next people to be the new heads of the festival immediately,” he said. There always exists the fear that something will not be able to repeat its initial success — but even though the Comedy Festival has only been staged once so far, it is already quite clear that he has nothing to worry about.

John Colie is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at jec439@cornell.edu.