Students complete final exams through stand-up performance


Joseph Dicklin

A Comedy College student performing their skit in the Maintenance Shop Nov. 28, 2022.

Students of Iowa State’s honors course in comedy completed their final exams Monday night in the form of a stand-up comedy performance at Memorial Union’s Maintenance Shop.

The course, HON 321v, called Comedy College, is intended to teach students to be funnier, according to its description on the Honors seminars course listings. For their final students are required to evoke at least one laugh from a live audience, a task all students more than accomplished.

University professor in economics and assistant teacher for Comedy College Peter Orazem gave the opening act and defined the parameters of the final before professor for the course Gavin Jerome introduced the students.

Peter Orazem of Comedy College conducting the Maintenance Shop crowd Nov. 28, 2022. (Joseph Dicklin)

“So I put it to thusly, ladies and gentlemen of the audience,” Orazem said. “You have it within your power to determine whether or not these young men and women will earn the coveted two credits of satisfactory from Gavin Jerome’s Comedy College.”

After each student’s act, Jerome would prompt the audience to holler out “they passed” signifying the students earned the coveted two credits from Gavin Jerome’s Comedy College.

Students’ acts spanned a variety of topics and varied in length but never failed to gain the audience’s approval.

Orazem said the students did great throughout the show, and benefited from a dress rehearsal the previous night. He also said it was clear that the students understood both the writing and delivery aspects of comedy.

“Every one of them got honest to god, good laughs, so I think it was very good,” Orazem said.

Orazem said that Comedy College helps students develop a number of skills beyond being funny.

“If you’re able to write your own material and deliver it in a very large, packed audience and not throw up, you can do a lot of other things too,” Orazem said. “And so I think it’s just a great experience as far as learning how to deliver, but you also learn how to write because to be a successful comedian, you have to be very efficient.”

Orazem said that a big challenge of writing a comedy set is getting people to laugh frequently enough that they don’t get bored. Practicing such a skill is a good way to develop strong writing skills.

Lauren Anderson, a senior majoring in elementary education, was one of the students featured in the first night of Comedy College Finals. Anderson said that going on stage and delivering a stand-up routine made her feel like she could do anything.

Gavin Jerome introducing this semester’s Comedy College students Nov. 28, 2022. (Joseph Dicklin)

“I feel like this class really helped me get out of my shell. Just because people laugh at you doesn’t mean that’s a bad thing. You can turn that into something good,” Anderson said. “That was really fun to be on stage and hear people laughing at your jokes.”

Guru Bazawada, a sophomore in computer science, said the course helped him to be funny and develop public speaking skills.

“So I feel like if one thing that I’ve learned from [the class], sorta learned how to write a few jokes, but I definitely learned how to not be shy,” Bazawada said.

Kenny Tran, a sophomore in computer engineering, said he enjoyed the class because it allowed him to get to know many of his peers much better than other courses Iowa State offers.

“Just being funny gets you pretty far in life, like if there’s a conflict happening, just being funny can help turn that down easily,” Tran said.

Reagan Demmon, a junior in animal ecology, said the experience helped her present herself more strongly.

“I think trying to come off as mature or serious isn’t always the path that you need, and I think you make people more comfortable when you’re just yourself, trying to keep it loose,” Demmon said.

The Comedy College finals take place over two days, with one event Monday night and another event, set to take place Tuesday night. Tuesday’s Comedy College Finals begin at 7 p.m. at the Memorial Union Maintenance Shop.