Categorized | Arts & Entertainment

“What U Laughing At?”

Ronnie Wright ’18 called me out in the first 10 minutes of Podcast of Wooster’s first live comedy show, “What U Laughing At?” Saturday in Douglass basement. After one of her punchiest jokes, she noted, “This time next week, there’s going to be a Voice article saying Ronnie Wright is a reverse racist.” Yet, as a comedian of color, Wright clearly knew how to connect with her audience, earning big laughs from an overwhelmingly white crowd.

Several performers had prepared race-based material for the show, at which host Sam Carlson ’18 assured the audience, “It’s okay to laugh. They’re jokes. That’s why we wrote them.” A spiral-patterned sheet and single spotlight provided a warm welcome for the comedians, who sat ready to dole out laughs for their peers on couches next to the stage.

Omar Kelly ’21, in his first-ever stand-up performance, leveled the banter by explaining that black people and white people do the same things, just differently. With a smile and a self-aware stage presence, his segment on dating matters and even the nearly minute-long improvisation at the end of his set seemed completely natural.

Blaire Bosley ’18 took a storytelling approach that is probably more familiar to the Wooster Moth story slam scene. Although soft-spoken, she spoke candidly with the audience, peppering a religious childhood-to-college narrative with jokes about cat-calling and IKEA. As a fellow senior, her praise for Camp Woo also rang amusingly true for me.

Some faces were familiar to Common Grounds’ stand-up nights. Seasoned comedians André Baronov ’20 and Nat Davis ’19 stood out for their crowd work. Baronov  interrupted his own comedic singing and strumming to rib his TA in the audience before picking up precisely where he had left off. Overall, the Bo Burnham-like combination of music and comedy served Baronov’s act well and differentiated him from the lineup.

Compared to the improvised nature of some of the other acts, Davis’ set was meticulously written and outrageously descriptive. While his far-reaching pun openers got a few reluctant laughs and several groans, his sentimental closer evoked more than a few “awws.”

Finally, Carlson, another Common Grounds and Podcast of Wooster alum, closed the show with two subjects in mind: dining services and race in his own family. The topic of dining services is familiar to all Wooster students, but Carlson also managed to draw us in to the exaggerated nuances of his family. While some audience members might have left going, “same,” I left with the feeling I get after watching reality TV: much saner than before.

Overall, students received the stand-up format warmly. With a larger crowd and more planned acts, this event put more on the line for performers as writers and distinguished itself from the Moth or Common Grounds. Podcast of Wooster was established in 2015 and aspires to “inspire, motivate or amuse.” With “What U Laughing At?,” the group continued its legacy of providing the campus with art in new and unique formats.

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