“Better Than Therapy”: Why these AU Students Chose Comedy

by Sarah Ross

In lieu of waiting for AU’s Counseling Center to give mediocre advice and a referral to an expensive off-campus psychologist, some brave AU students had a better idea: comedy.

Evidently, AU’s mental health aid is failing more of us than we thought because the event, hosted this past Saturday at 7:30 at Tenley Bar and Grill, was sold out and had a long waitlist. AU proved once more that its student body was eager to search out another coping mechanism, and honestly, this one was pretty awesome.

“Better Than Therapy: A Night of Stand-Up Comedy” featured 5 incredible AU students/comedians and a fabulous setting at Tenley Bar and Grill. It was not lost on the audience or staff that many of the jokes referred to underage drinking in an actual bar. Host Emily Brolin succinctly wrapped up the mood of the night before it even started by reminding us, “you’re welcome to be here.”

Personally, I felt blessed to witness such incredible comedy masterminds all lovingly roped into this by the indomitable producer Rebecca Lamis. None of the performers had ever done stand-up before, but it was, as the kids say, lit.

The audience was quickly put in its place as first performer Katey Clausen asked us how we were doing, and then responded: “Well, great, but it’s not about you.” No, this night was about tales of weird neighbors, bad summer jobs, drunken benders, and generally explaining why college is a scam.

At the same time, the night was about us. It was a night for listening to stories, laughing at mishaps, and, like the true wonks we are, learning. We learned about the many forms of evil in this world, from kids to neighbors to tuition. The jokes struck a perfect balance between relatable and intriguing, managing to cover topics you didn’t even realize you related to. Indeed, almost no stone was left unturned. In the word’s of Saturday Night Live’s Stefan, this event had everything: mango Juul pods, a hot barista, a drunken FaceTime from a friend currently abroad.

Being in DC and AU, there was enough diversity in content for the two main categories of AU students and alumni: “white collar-criminals and people that are so wonky they think talking about tax policy is foreplay,” as Hannah Zak thoughtfully stated. Rosie DeLuca catered to both AU professors and students by giving a slam poem about how pointless class is, tips on how to make Blackboard assignments more fun (Spoiler: give them clickbait titles), and pinpointing the exact fault of the guy who wore a Confederate flag sweatshirt to TDR: he went to TDR. (But seriously, fuck that dude.)

Another demographic met its match when Daniel Giles bravely decided to step up as one of AU’s six boys and remind us to respect the Midwest, or at least his summer of frantically trying to control 5-7 year old children, which explains how he was able to tame a crowd of tipsy AU students and random bar patrons. Stuck between the generational gaps of evil children and naked grandfathers asking him about the Cardinals game, Daniel bravely pushed on to make it to DC, where the only uneasy moments come from almost being killed by a ventriloquist dummy and its parents on the Metro.

The stories told made for a rollercoaster of relatable moments, secondhand embarrassment, and confusion. When Fabiola Enid dramatically and beautifully demonstrated how she was a sloppy drunk by spilling a metaphorical glass of wine and a real glass of water all over the stage, I felt that. Haven’t we all been there? Maybe not even as a sloppy drunk but just, like, emotionally? Truly, her display was a testament to the hard work she did last semester studying theatre in London. Few spilled drinks could compare. Take notes, kids.

Hannah Zak started out giving us a lesson for future comedy shows: It’s kind of not cool to respond to news of someone doing stand up by saying, “Oh, you’re so brave.”

Now, I respect this, but I also beg to differ. It takes nerves of steel to reveal private information on a non-social media platform. As Zak said, it could just stem from her need for constant attention. Nevertheless, I commend her candor.

Honestly, I applaud all of these comedians, pun intended. Not just because they performed and were all hysterical, but because of the way they approached the whole show. Before the show I asked them why they did it, and what AU should take away from this. I half-expected some wonk joke or dig at the student body, but what they said and what they showed served as a lesson to me and I think to the entire audience: “Try a new hobby,” said Zak.

Do something you’re not used to. Go up and do it. If it doesn’t work, you can move on. But in the meantime, you tried something and you had fun. You learned something about yourself, and after all, isn’t that worthwhile? They also agreed that I should make the entire article just this video, but my editor vetoed that idea. Sorry, guys.

However, the fun won’t stop! Rebecca Lamis announced that another comedy show awaits us at Tenley Bar and Grill on February 16th at 7:30pm, with a new lineup of fresh faces. Be sure to come on down and laugh, drink, and heckle. So, make sure you bring your fake.