By Mythili Devarakonda
For The Diamondback
Amid the chaos in the world, the University of Maryland saw some comedic relief through SEE’s Spring Student Comedy Competition on March 15. The event featured student comedians, with the winner being given a guaranteed spot in the Art Attack Festival at the end of the semester.
With a lineup of 14 acts, each exploring five-minute sets of standup comedy via a variety of pop culture themes and personal anecdotes, the Baltimore Room at Stamp Student Union was filled with laughs. From jokes about Kanye West’s latest Netflix documentary to “World War III,” the show was an echo of laughter, applause and cheers.
One of the competitors, Anna Artazova, a junior English major, has been doing standup comedy for two and a half years and is a part of an all-female, nonbinary comedy group on the campus named The Hysterics.
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“Comedy is a refuge for me. And a coping mechanism. And it’s just something overall fun, and it’s something that’s become a very big part of my life,” Artazova said. “Personally, I can’t imagine not doing comedy and not doing open mics and shows.”
Student Entertainment Events comedy director Katie Whitehead thinks that comedy is not only a tool to destress but also a conversation starter about socio-political issues in the world, “just in the same way that any media does.”
The setlist for the night included comedians from this university’s popular comedy groups such as Maryland Night Live, Punchbowl Comedy and The Hysterics. The comedy night also featured a special performance from Mockappella — a group that combines music and comedy to perform fun parodies.
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The crowd roared in laughter as the group sang an acapella parody cover of Måneskin’s “Beggin’” — changing its lyrics to fit the parodied title of the song, “Peggin.”
Eric Strauss, a junior computer science and psychology major, said he specializes in “stupid humor” — the same humor that won him the first place at the competition and a guaranteed spot at SEE’s Art Attack Festival in May.
“It’s like you’re not focusing on the troubles of the world, like it’s just for a moment — it’s just playing dumb, and you can forget about [the troubles] for a moment,” Strauss said.
Judged by three SEE directors, Brady Greenberg, Taneen Momeni and Maggie Letvin, the show aimed to bring a sense of community among people who enjoy comedy as well as giving an opportunity for students to showcase their talents, Whitehead said.
“It’s about having these spaces in these environments where students can interact with each other and have a shared experience,” said Sydney Maccagnan, a junior marketing major and SEE’s public relations director.
After winning the competition, Strauss said, “I feel ecstatic and just for context here, I have zero coordination, so I’ve never won anything in my entire life — picked last for kickball — but I’m great at just talking about my butt on stage and pointing at it. I think that won me something finally.”