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Scotlight

A weekly inside look at the unique faces and personalities that make up The College of Wooster community.

Sally Kershner
Features Editor

How has comedy as a medium of art impacted you?

It definitely has allowed me to express myself more. I see myself as a different person growing throughout college compared to before college, because I didn’t do any sort of improv before college. [Improv has] definitely molded me in a way that allows me to see the world the way I do — which is more comedic, which is what we need now.

I originally wanted to be a marine biologist, and as I was growing and going through college I realized that [comedy] was more what I wanted to do than, like, an office setting. Hopefully, I will use the political science major to get an actual job and use that as the Plan B to help me get Plan A to work, which ideally will result in me being on Saturday Night Live, either as a writer or a cast member.

What inspired your vlog series “My Lit Life?”

I was sitting in one of the study rooms in A.P.E.X. and was just procrastinating on my laptop like college students do, and I noticed Facebook had a live video thing, and I clicked it. I was with a few friends and they got the notification and started watching it while they were in the room with me. Then I was like, “Honestly, this is fun and I like doing this,” and it’s been going on for over a year. It’s a fun thing to let people who aren’t around me know who I am.

Do you think comedy is a way for different points of view to merge together?

I definitely think that comedy can do that, yes. When you are in a place of comedy, be it an improv show or stand-up, you open yourself up to the words that are coming towards you. You are actively listening to what is being said in front of you, and I wholeheartedly think that, even though people may not realize it, comedy and laughter can bring even the furthest of peoples together, even if it is for a split second.

Improv, for sure, is a literal merging of different points of view together. In Don’t Throw Shoes, there are 12 different people, meaning 12 different views, and we all are able to come together and make other people laugh, and that’s literally so amazing to me, that we can all come together and basically create art right on the spot.

How do politics and comedy interact?

I find so much comedy in politics, and in all my political science classes I constantly crack jokes and stuff; there was this one class where every time I opened my mouth someone would laugh (even if I was trying to be serious).

Why should we still be talking about Beall Ave?

Whenever I walk down Beall in the evening, or at night, and there is a car coming up from behind me, I cringe and wince. I have had slurs and insults yelled at me before, so I wear headphones and listen to music so I can’t hear them, and I cannot imagine how others who do not have the same male privilege that I have feel.

So, The College of Wooster students with the residents of the surrounding area need to communicate in order to voice opinions and concerns about Beall Ave. so that as much of the student body can feel safe literally walking.

But it is not just us that have issues with Beall. I do not doubt for a second that some of the commuters on Beall hate how we walk through the street at places that are not crosswalks, or how we cause traffic jams around lunch. It’s not helpful or productive to just talk about it within our own community; we are basically the only ones that read the Voice and see all of these viewpoints and articles about how people feel on Beall Ave., and there is likely a similar thing going on in the community around the campus. They probably have grievances like we do. If we ever stop talking about Beall, that means everything is okay, and things are never okay for long.

How can the school’s racial climate improve?

I think that there is a huge disconnect between the administration and the student body. Personally, when I think about administration, both generally and in the context of The College of Wooster, I see older white [people], which makes me skeptical of how well they can actually help improve the school’s racial climate.

Additionally, there have been times when people within the administration have literally sent emails — even though it was accidentally — that were so problematic. So, I think that one way the College could take steps to improving this could be by having their college-wide statements be more like State of the Union addresses, but knowing the College and how they turned TED Talks into Tartan Talks, they’d likely change it to something Wooster related.

I say this because when you’re speaking, as opposed to writing, you are able to say things with feeling and people can see them too, while an email can be misconstrued and misinterpreted. Also, it allows people to see the faces of the administration, so we know who exactly is saying these words, because for all we know, someone else could have written the email and the administrator just signed the bottom. So, the next time an indecent happens, an actual heartfelt speech, I think, would be a lot better than an email that some students probably will just dump in their trash folder.

What draws the line between comedy and microaggressions?

Well, first off, everyone’s line between comedy and microaggressions is different. I feel like comedy is always riding that line.

I also think that the type of comedy matters. Stand-up, for example, is one person talking at an audience, while in improv it is people interacting with other people that they have a rapport with to create a scene that an audience can watch. Stand up is usually based in real life, while improv is all improvised/made up, so microaggressions work differently for each.

Thankfully, in Don’t Throw Shoes we all know each other and are comfortable voicing what we do not like to make jokes about, so when we perform, we are all able to have a good time. Plus, the diversity within Don’t Throw Shoes a majority of the group is comprised of women and people of color which is not something you really see in improv or comedy in general.

But, broadly speaking, I do not think it is possible to do a stand up routine or put on an improv performance without one person being offended, and that’s okay, but racial/sexual/gender/religious/etc. diversity within comedy will definitely make it less common.

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