On the night of Oct. 30, the Hopkins Stand-Up Comedy Club (fondly known as SUCC) held its third annual Halloween comedy show, entitled, “Stand-Up Comedy Halloween Show III (This Time It's Personal).” Needless to say, this show took place virtually for the first time ever via YouTube livestream with the performers and a few audience members present on a Zoom call. Some of the members of the club continued their tradition of dressing up for the show, with costumes including a baby Yoda, a blue wig and a colorful unicorn hood.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the live show, but I had the absolute pleasure of experiencing it by watching the saved YouTube video. Admittedly, as an avid stand-up comedy fan I was initially concerned that the SUCC show would run into similar online problems as professional comedy groups do during the pandemic, which is the lack of an audience.
However, unlike some of the more famous comedy groups who have done virtual shows such as Saturday Night Live, there was no laugh track audible to the viewers. Instead, in order to create a reciprocal environment, the comedians simply received feedback from their fellow comedians on the Zoom call and in the YouTube comments. As a result, each set flowed naturally and felt as close as possible to experiencing stand-up comedy in person. The performers who took part in this 50-minute show were truly talented and watching the show brought a lot of levity to our currently dark reality.
The show was kicked off by the club’s president, senior Amani Nelson. Like many of the following performers, Nelson began with jokes related to the pandemic. She used the Zoom medium creatively to “introduce” herself to her classmates as a disembodied voice with her camera off so that they could easily identify her later. She went on to reminisce on her childhood experience of going to church and questioned the order and importance of the 10 commandments and the Bible as a whole. She finished her set by moving back to COVID-19 humor, discussing her television and commercial intake over the past several months.
Next up was graduate student and SUCC veteran Natalie Wu, who was dressed as baby Yoda. Wu’s set centered around her own identity, touching on her status as a graduate student, her competing Japanese and Chinese ethnicities, what it means to be a Californian and her nervous coughing tick. She ended her set by discussing the status of incels during the pandemic, debating whether or not they could rebrand themselves during a period when celibacy and isolation are considered so noble.
Wu was followed by senior Tejasvi Desai, whose blue wig comedically took up much of her Zoom window. Desai’s set centered around her watching Narcos and how she would want to parlay this into a real-life career of translating for criminals. One of the highlights of Desai’s set was when she acted out how translating for a Spanish-speaking bank robber might play out, complete with Spanish idiomatic phrases that translated quite humorously into English.
Following Desai was junior Kyra Rothwell. She began by talking about various steps she has been taking to recreate the Hopkins life in Zoom University, such as loading up her backpack to maintain her scoliosis or having her roommates hide her computer to simulate rushing to Olin Hall for a final. She later discussed her name, riffing on the false confidence Zoom gives her classmates in attempting to pronounce her deceivingly simple name. She ended her set by talking about her newfound television obsession, House Hunters.
Freshman Ellie Mattoon then graced the SUCC “stage” for the first time. Mattoon was full of enthusiasm during her first performance, which was about growing up with a father who she believed was an alien. Her performance was framed by a wish she made on a star at the beginning of 2020 for it to be like 1920, which she claims has come all too true.
Mattoon was followed by senior Harry Kuperstein, whose set spanned a wide range of topics, beginning with his own appearance and touching on peanut allergies, TikTok doctors, the bank and TSA security. Kuperstein finished off by discussing a cat YouTube channel that turned out to be anti-Semitic and pontificated on what having an anti-Semitic cat would be like.
Finishing off the show was senior Ariella Shua. Shua began her set with a focus on her experience as a senior looking for a job, utilizing the Zoom “share screen” function to feature her LinkedIn profile. She focused her set on her experience with Halloween growing up, during which her father would not let her celebrate the holiday due to it being a day rooted in anti-Semitism (she trick-or-treated for the first time when she was 18). She finished the show with her thoughts about Hopkins women taking birth control at the same time on M-Level along with dating at Hopkins during COVID-19, an apt way to ease the audience back into the real world after 45 minutes of comedy.
The Hopkins SUCC’s Halloween Comedy Show was truly a joy to watch. Seeing the supportive comments directed toward the comedians in the YouTube comments throughout the show served as a dual reminder of the supportive environment that usually accompanies SUCC shows as well as the unusual circumstances under which the show was occurring.
Ariella Shua, a member of SUCC, is a Managing Editor for The News-Letter. She did not contribute reporting, writing or editing to this article.