Have a Laugh

Comedy Open Mic Night in Eliot Chapel

During this past parent weekend, a diverse group of Reed students gathered in Eliot chapel to participate in the monthly open mic comedy night. Students took turns performing seven-minute stand up sets on subjects including parenting, life at Reed, and psychedelics. Events like the Reed comedy open mic nights give students the opportunity to express their thoughts in a funny, relatable manner while remaining considerate of the variety of differences in the student body.

One performer in particular elaborated on their experiences migrating to the United States to attend Reed, cracking jokes about the differences between American culture and that of their home country and their surprise at the prevalence of meme culture among the American youth. They managed to share their personal experience adapting to a wildly different environment in such a way that both made the audience roar with laughter, and, at least in my case, incited further thought about the experiences of international students at Reed. I decided to interview them at the end of the night to hear more about their comedic approach and experience at Reed so far. They asked to remain anonymous.

What, I asked, did they consider before going into a set? “One thing with comedy is that it is very context based,” they explained, “so the context of one joke could be really funny in this setting, but not so much across across a dinner table or something like that — it’s something you have to consider before you go in front of people.” They went on to say that they framed their material around “what [they] find weird about the U.S., and not about making jokes about people,” and said that they were well aware of their audience’s thoughts and opinions just as much as their own.

I then went on to ask them their favorite thing about Reed, hoping to gain more perspective into what those not raised within American culture might value the most about the school. Their response: “Reed students talk a lot in honesty… people are open and talk about how they truly feel — it’s something I really appreciate.”

The openness and honesty from Reed students was prevalent in every student’s comedy set. Parental relationships, anxiety about post-college adulthood, and coping with trauma were all discussed in an open and honest way, but done so using comedy as a strong unifier between the performers and the audience.

Reedies passionate about the art of comedy have banded together to redefine stand-up, steering away from sensitive topics while maintaining the raunchy attitude you’d expect to get out of a comedy show. Open mic events are held roughly once a month, and they are most definitely worth attending to learn more about the experiences of your fellow Reedies while having a good laugh along the way.

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