ISU Comedy Club practices community humor

Sophomore Josh Popoola laughs as another student presents jokes at an Iowa State Stand-Up Comedy Club meeting.

Dalton Gackle

For some students, comedy is how they deal with the stress of the real world. For introverts, it provides them with a way to connect to others.

The Stand-Up Comedy Club at ISU (SUCCISU) is the hub for students looking to toss around jokes with friends, and potentially even perform in different venues in the Ames area.

“The club provides a lot of opportunity,” Matt Banwart, sophomore in marketing and management, said. “It gives the chance to work on jokes and test jokes. The ability to get up on stage is huge and it’s been amazing for that.”

SUCCISU president Nick Seymour, senior in mechanical engineering, said the community aspect of the club is what makes it important to students interested in comedy.

“You’ve got a huge group of comedians to tell your jokes to,” Seymour said. “It means that you don’t have to write your jokes alone.”

Seymour started the club a year ago after taking Gavin Jerome’s Comedy College, an honors seminar teaching students public speaking and basic comedy skills. After the seminar ended, Seymour developed an itch to continue stand-up at Iowa State.

“The club was just an idea to keep myself involved in comedy and I wanted to share that interest with others,” Seymour said. “It started with just me and a couple other students and now it’s so much more than that.”

The club meets every week so the students can develop their material and test it out on their colleagues.

“It gives us a couple hours to tell jokes with friends, constructively,” Josh Popoola, sophomore in biosystems engineering, said.

Rachel Reyes, junior in English and another veteran of Gavin Jerome’s Comedy College, has similar thoughts.

“It offers us a chance to be creative and get honest feedback from each other,” she said.

The club also offers the opportunity to just sit back and laugh.

“I enjoy laughing a lot,” Popoola said. “The only way I’ve been able to process things changing is to look at them with a serious lens and then I can look at situations and find the funny in them.”

Like Popoola, many people find comedy to be a release from everyday life, politics and issues.

“Comedy seems like some sort of ultimate craft of empathy,” John Harlow, senior in chemical engineering, said. “In a way, it’s the most populist form of art. It’s neat how it gets people to think about things and question things. It has a very transformative impact on society.”

The club lets students develop this art, whether they eventually perform or not.

“The club acts as a nice portal to go to a venue and perform,” Harlow said. “Comedy is something people think, ‘Oh, I want to do that,’ and it turns out that it’s actually doable.”

Club members are able to take advantage of the connections that Seymour and the other founders have made with different venues. Banwart, Popoola, Seymour, Reyes and Harlow, among others will all perform Friday night in the Maintenance Shop as part of ISU AfterDark.

“It’s a home field,” Popoola said. “I’m not going to get a better setting. It’s small enough to feel comfortable but big enough to feel special.”

Popoola also mentioned that performing at the M-Shop is exciting because it is a spot where professional comedians come and perform.

“The M-Shop is the perfect venue,” Banwart said.

The M-Shop has given credibility to the club, as well as publicity.

“I never thought we’d grow as much as we have as a club,” Reyes said.

SUCCISU is always looking for more members, though it realizes that getting up on stage can be intimidating.

“Performing in general is a rush,” Harlow said. “It’s the absolute worst experience until you get that first laugh; then it’s the best thing.”

Club members often have the opportunity to perform in the M-Shop to gain confidence.

“The crowd there is always supportive of us,” Reyes said. “Many of our comedians our introverts, but it’s a comfortable place.”

The club also sets up shows at the Nevada Talent Factory and at other Ames locations. Once comedians gain confidence, they might also venture to open mic nights at one of the many bars in Ames, such as Zeke’s or DG’s Tap House.

“Ames has a really good comedy scene, especially considering how small it is,” Banwart said. “Ames is an amazing community.”

As for their next show, the comedians are ready to impress the many hall-wanderers at ISU AfterDark.

“We’ve got the funniest comedians we’ve ever had,” Seymour said.