Tens of students lined the couches of the Platt Performing Arts House on Sept. 18 to watch Penn’s very first "Funny Friday."
Funny Fridays is an open-mic comedy night organized by College juniors Luke Clements and Lauren Sorantino, who is a podcast host with the Daily Pennsylvanian and a writer for Under the Button. Sorantino is a member of the comedy group Bloomers and Clements is in Without a Net. They said that they hope to host the comedic variety show nearly every month of the academic year.
Students interested in performing can fill out an online form and indicate a performance focused on stand-up, improv, sketch, music, video or other formats.
College junior Mica Tenenbaum attended the event and said she thought the laid-back atmosphere of the event is positive for budding comics.
“[Funny Fridays] is a good way for a people who are just getting into comedy and try new ideas without feeling the pressure of a huge stage or a huge audience of a formal thing,” she said.
While many of the performers are members of comedy groups at Penn, Clements and Sorantino said they hope the monthly event can attract people who do not typically participate in comedic groups.
Sorantino said that she and Clements decided to begin Funny Fridays after agreeing that Penn’s comedy scene is “full of opportunity, but too small.”
Penn has four student comedy groups: Bloomers, for all-female musical sketch comedy, Mask and Wig, for all-male musical comedy, Simpy Chaos, for stand-up comedy and Without a Net, for improvised comedy.
“There are only four comedy groups on campus and I’d say in total 100 kids are involved in them,” she said. “And I’m sure there are more than 100 kids at Penn that want their voices heard.”
Clements said Penn lacks venues and opportunities for certain types of comedy, especially for stand-up comedy, noting that some of his friends venture off campus for a chance to perform.
Outside of joining a student comedy group, he said the only opportunities to perform on campus were in speakeasies and open-mic nights, like those of the Kelly Writers House, which Clements said is not the most fitting place for comedy.
“Alternative comedy has virtually no place at Penn,” he added.
He added that he was glad that the first Funny Friday featured some “alternative comedy” in the form of video bits and a “less-than-conventional” stand-up set.
College junior and Assistant Director for Bloomers Jackie Lawyer said the significant time commitment of some groups, which is typically 15 hours a week for Bloomers, could be a barrier to those interested in comedy.
“Some people want to get into the comedy scene but don’t have the luxury of time to dedicate to a group like Bloomers,” Lawyer said.
Though Penn’s four comedy groups operate under the Singers, Musicians, and Comedians Council, Sorantino said that she felt the need for a “neutral umbrella group” to specifically mediate comedy groups.
She added that she would like to have a neutral group to host communal comedic events, such as the Late Night Comedy show during New Student Orientation which is currently hosted by Mask and Wig, even though it features performances from all four groups.
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