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Texas ISD School Guide
Texas ISD School Guide


Why Do College Comedians Suck?
By:Brandon Mendelson

In November of 2001, I found myself standing in front of at least fifty Alfred State College students who were attending my comedy show. After the President of the college, Bill Rezak, decided not to participate in the imaginary goat auction, I had to fill time before the band was ready to perform. I started on this riff about college life at Alfred. Which, to be honest, is like making fun of someone with irritable bowl syndrome if you like to make fart jokes.

During this impromptu stand-up routine, I was thinking that college comedians must have it made. I’ve promoted a lot of events at college campuses and other entertainment venues, and comedians, especially at college campuses, always draw a solid crowd. I think it is because we as students need the relief after all the bullshit we have to put up with. And since the entertainment industry doesn’t seem to get why we’re tuning the traditional media out, our entertainment options are usually limited to the bar, the local movie theater, and comedians.

So here we have comedians with a built in audience and plenty of college related material to work with. What could go wrong? Apparently everything. Since everything is way too broad a subject to take on, I have three theories about why most of the comedians on the college circuit blow.

1) The students who book comedians consistently flunk personality tests. Maybe campuses get bad comedians because selfish people do their booking. Some organizations that use your campus activity money often have no oversight and book what they want, not what you want.

This theory gets some momentum when you consider some of these dopey bastards usually spend your campus activity money on an annual visit to NACA (the National Association Of College Activities.) NACA, as a grizzled veteran of student booking once told me, used to be a place where “evil promoters” offered students cocaine in hotel rooms in exchange for booking the act they represented.

I can’t tell you if that was true or not, but I know conventions where you have to go and put something together are often cluster fucks that end in poor results. Most of the students I’ve met who attend these conventions skim through the acts and just pick what they wanted to see, not what the students wanted to see.

While I think a lot of student activity planners are incompetent and often require a baby sitter, this theory really doesn’t explain why the comedians themselves suck, just why you see them at your college and not on Comedy Central, where bad comedians go to die.

2) A college official tells the comedian they can’t say certain jokes because it might offend the audience. I’ve seen this happen twice with Tiny Glover at two different colleges. The first time I saw him at Alfred State College in 2003, the adviser of the Alfred Planning Board told him that he couldn’t make any comments that might be offensive to gay students. Then during his act, as he started to make the joke about getting into bed with his male roommate, he stopped and said something to the effect that he couldn't go on because he was told not to. The same thing happened with him at SUNY Potsdam.

Now, two things are possible. First, that these two colleges' officials were members of the PC Nazi Brigade, and they wanted to censor everything before students were exposed to it. (And yes, in both Alfred and Potsdam’s case, they are card carrying members of the brigade.)

Or it could be that this part of Tiny’s act is part of his routine to win favor with the audience. What supports this theory is that colleges today are run by conservatives and liberals who want to serve as the parents to students in the real parent’s absence, so when they are involved with student booking they are too involved and control everything, including the content you’re exposed to.

This theory is slightly better than the first one, as we’re getting closer to why the college comedian’s material might be ruined because of the college’s influence. But there are many colleges out there that let comedians say what they want, in which case…

3) There are no excuses: most college comedians suck. We’ve all seen a bad comedian before, but sometimes college students are exposed to people who should quit and become professional perverts. At least this way when they molest their audience there is some kind of penalty for it.

I’m honestly sick of hearing about how long it took to get to my school, why the school’s weather sucks, and worst of all, the bullshit public service announcements every comedian makes about how awesome life is and how you shouldn’t wrap kittens in dynamite.

I have yet to encounter a comedian that has made a comment relative to my school that would be funny during their routine. Usually we just get the standard, “Hyuck, hyuck, man, that school food sucks, what do they serve in your dining hall… crap?” This line is often followed by the comedian leaving college material behind and moving on to their boring life. Did I miss memo that said everyone had to be like Jerry Seinfeld? You’re a loser… and?

I realize a lot of the comedians are starting out on the college circuit or they are just doing the gig to collect a paycheck in between “projects”, but we need a damn good laugh these days, and some of the garbage we’re getting makes me want play with GI Joe toys and give them mental disorders that make it impossible for them to interact with each other.

It could be that all or none of these theories are correct, or the answer is somewhere in between, but when you have so much material to work with for every college campus out there (Potsdam has mutant farm animals roaming around in a cage on Route 11 for example) there is no reason to use the same tired routine and go through the motions to “entertain” us. Unless some of these comedians simply suck, in which case they shouldn't quit their day job.

Brandon J. Mendelson

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