British actor Peter Ustinov once said, “comedy is just a funny way of being serious.”

For the comedians behind Maryland Night Live, that sentiment rings true. 

Maryland Night Live Season 12 premiered at Stamp Student Union’s Colony Ballroom on Saturday, a culmination of six weeks of hard work and preparation. The free performance combined traditional stand-up routines with both live and pre-filmed comedy sketches, punctuated by musical performances from guest bands.

“I just like being able to make something for the campus community that lets them laugh,” said Aileen Foley, a cast member and senior computer science and studio art major.

The Maryland Night Live crew parodied a wide variety of College Park institutions, from questionably attractive Trader Joe’s employees to the disarming, sign-wielding protesters that appeared around campus to denounce progressive causes.

After the show’s cold open – a skit that saw the University of Maryland Wii Bowling team take over the Jones-Hill House – the night’s host Caleigh Larkin took the floor. Larkin’s knockout monologue was one of the night’s highlights, detailing their winter break in rural Illinois and a mean-spirited story they penned in fourth grade.

Larkin was one of three stand-up routines that night. Holland Schmitz, who pulled double-duty as the show’s stage manager, was another featured act. Schmitz riffed on in-class hipsters, God’s LinkedIn page and brought down the house with a retelling of their recurring Reneé Rapp-laden dream.

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Amelia Nur, the show’s final stand-up act, provided the most personal moments of the event, intertwining her Persian heritage with topics ranging from mosh pits to 9/11 — to the apparent shock of the audience. 

The show drew some of its biggest laughs during the pre-tapes, a collection of filmed sketches reminiscent of Saturday Night Live’s famed digital shorts. 

A trailer for a Cool Math Games movie — allegedly from the producers of Oppenheimer and The Emoji Movie — and a mockumentary about the inner-dysfunction of the Undergraduate Governing Students organization were among the night’s most successful sketches, with the latter earning a sustained ovation from the crowd. 

The applause was a satisfying payoff for the Maryland Night Live crew, who had worked to improve the pre-filmed segments for the show’s 12th season.

“We spent a lot more time really trying to perfect them and edit them this year,” Kaelyn Roney, Maryland Night Live’s co-director, said. “I think that they’re really good and very topical.”

The junior government and politics major helped lead this season of Maryland Night Live alongside head writer Julia Parker, a senior history major. Parker oversees a three-week writing process and also performs as a cast member. 

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The writing team pulls inspiration from a variety of local sources — including The Diamondback — to set themselves apart from the nationally-focused show, Parker said. According to Parker, this is the basis of Maryland Night Live’s appeal.

“You can definitely tell when you’re in the audience and you’re a student that a lot of the jokes are for you,” Parker said. “I think it’s a lot more personal.”

Some sketches were specific to this university, while others took aim at general college life, including one in which Parker, dressed as Katy Perry, interviewed possible roommate candidates. But one strayed toward a national issue when Schoolhouse Rock!’s “I’m Just a Bill” got caught up in the Capitol insurrection. 

For nearly two hours, the cast and crew of Maryland Night Live put on an impressive display of comedic writing, filmmaking and performance, upping the ante for the group’s fall show. Maryland Night Live’s 12th season was a breezy escape from the everyday stresses of college life and a showcase for some of the campus’s best jokesters.