UMass student begins stand up comedy RSO

By Patrick Hoff

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Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

When a person thinks of stand up comedy, certain names come to mind. Maybe it’s George Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” or perhaps Bill Cosby’s “Chocolate Cake for Breakfast.” There’s also Aziz Ansari, Ellen DeGeneres, Bo Burnham, Wanda Sykes – the list is endless.

In an effort to bring a sliver of this stand up talent to the University of Massachusetts, senior Thomas Bachman, communications major and economics and Portuguese minor, has started a Registered Student Organization. Holding bi-weekly events in the UPub, the RSO invites any student interested in doing a five-minute stand up act to try it out.

“There’s no barrier to entry so anyone who wants to try (can),” said Bachman.

The RSO is yet unnamed, but is working with the title “Slamherst Comedy” on their Twitter page. Bachman said that another possibility is Comedy Zoo. Previously, the group was called UMass Comedy Night, but they were told that they had to remove the word “UMass” from their name upon becoming an RSO.

“I wanted to make it an RSO so that it would survive after I left because it’s so fun,” Bachman said. “If there’s not someone carrying the torch, it’s just going to die.”

Bachman said that the idea to start the group began sophomore year when a student in his public speaking class was doing similar types of events, but when the student graduated the events died out.

“I wanted to do something similar, a place where people could have the environment of a stand up club where it’s like in a bar, people can talk but there’s an hour and a half where you get to see people, a whole range of diversity telling jokes,” he said.

Bachman added, “There’s a bunch of improv groups but there’s none just for stand up so I was kind of curious to see if I could find the people that would be interested. So I kind of just started there, tried to find people that maybe had experience or would want to see comedy or maybe participate at some level.”

In addition to the bi-weekly events at the UPub, Bachman hopes that in the off weeks, the group can host training workshops to give new comedians tips on stand up. He also is looking into hosting nights where members watch stand up specials together and perhaps taking field trips to Northampton or Springfield to see live comedians.

So far, there have been six shows at the UPub, which are held every other Tuesday from 8 to 9:30 p.m. The most comedians that they have hosted in a given night is 12, but Bachman estimated that upwards of 20 people are interested in getting involved.

“It’s picking up pretty quick,” he said. “I want to get some more underclassmen involved, some more females involved because it’s really good to have some diversity. It also inspires people to hopefully give it a shot.”

While Bachman handled the paperwork of becoming an RSO by himself, he had assistance from fellow students Alex Giampapa and Jordan Liff, who helped him to secure comedians on a regular basis.

“Without them, I couldn’t have done it,” Bachman said.

Bachman said that students interested in becoming a stand up comedian at one of the events should email the group at [email protected] or attend a show and sign up with the organizers.

“The whole point, in my mind, was to be as low risk, low stakes as possible because with stand up comedy (you’re) putting yourself out there so I want to get as many people the environment where that would be something they’d be willing to try,” he said. “Maybe they’re just a funny person and they think they could tell a five-minute story or two two-minute stories. It’s just getting as many people into it, and that’s really what I wanted to start.”

Bachman said that the group is also considering hosting “unplugged” music sets to mix up the acts between comedians.

Patrick Hoff can be reached at [email protected]