WASHINGTON – As 11 college students proved Tuesday night: “Life is too short to be taken seriously.”
That's the motto printed on the back of DC Improv T-shirts,and it rang true as laughter from the sold-out crowd of about 300 fueled the student performers competing for the title of “The District's Funniest College 2004.”
Allyson Jaffe,creator of the competition and manager of the DC Improv Comedy Club,said the club held free comedy showcases throughout February at area universities to seek out the “funniest students.”
As the pink neon lights along the ceiling flashed to signal the start of Tuesday's show,the crowd,composed mostly of college students,settled in for a night of laughs.
“Each school has two contestants,except Southeastern,because I think they only have one student who attends that school,” said comedian and emcee Matt Kazam as he looked out into the crowd. “This is the 800-1000 SAT group,over here's the 1000-1500 group … Southeastern didn't have to take it.”
First place went to J-L Cauvin,a law student at Georgetown University. Even though he won the title for the school,he said it really wasn't that big a deal.
“I can't say I was overly proud for GU,” Cauvin said about the school's one-two finish. “It's not like standing on the medal stand for the Olympics.”
Cauvin said his performance Tuesday was the best he's ever had,and “obviously I knew my friends would be laughing,” but he also felt a positive response from the rest of the audience.
“Law students need an escape,and I have now provided that,” Cauvin said. “I want my friends to think I'm funny,but if strangers laugh,it's a better test for how material is working.”
Only three of the performers were female. Jackie Novak,a senior English major at Georgetown,came away with the second-place prize: an Improv T-shirt and a $75 gift certificate to the Improv.
Novak was first on stage,opening with the line,“I'm a girl,” just in case the audience couldn't tell. She joked about pregnancy,motherhood,overweight people,midgets,the parents of handicapped children and losing her virginity.
David Angelo,the third-place winner from George Washington University,said he brought only three minutes of material and was hoping laughter would stretch it to eight. He won an Improv T-shirt and a $25 gift certificate.
“I know people who drop out of high school and say it wasn't challenging enough,” Angelo said. “Yeah,it didn't provide the intellectual stimulation that working 50 hours a week at Ruby Tuesday's provides.”
Everything was fair game,including college life,pornography,current events,relationships,family and the competitors' universities. But after the show,American University's Molly Norris said she thought some of her jokes prevented her from taking home a prize.
“I think my material was too offensive,” Norris said to a group of friends,who told her she also should have picked on AU in addition to her jokes about the other universities.
The winners were chosen by three judges: John Johnson,owner and general manager of the DC Improv; Todd Rexx,a comedian from BET's “Comic View” and HBO; and Mike Storck,a New York comedian and the DC Improv's feature act this week.
The performers sought the “Funniest College” title in addition to the first place prize – a week's worth of paid emcee work at the Improv.
Cauvin's time on stage also included bits on Kobe Bryant and adultery,supermarkets and their generic product names and a possible off-color sequel to “The Passion of the Christ” starring porn star Ron Jeremy as Jesus.
Cauvin,who is from the Bronx,N.Y.,said he has been performing for seven months at open mic nights and other shows. He will continue to do comedy at least as a hobby,he said.
“Now that I'm doing comedy,I think I do it almost too much – it's like everybody's an experiment for material,” Cauvin said. “My friends joke,‘Is that a bit?' and I'm like,‘No,I'm just talking.'”
Cauvin said he looks forward to his week as an emcee at the Improv because it will allow him to try new material and gain more exposure. And what he has to look forward to after that?
“I have exams at the end of April,” Cauvin said. “Comedy will be put to the side at that time.”