Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
July 29, 2021

Stand-Up Comedy Club still impresses a year after lockdown

By JAE CHOI | March 19, 2021

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COURTESY OF JAE CHOI

Choi interviews Kuperstein and Hecksher Gomes over Zoom.

The Stand-Up Comedy Club hosted its “Lockdown Anniversary Show” over YouTube Live on Saturday. The show featured colorful sets from veteran student comedians on topics ranging from the stock market to the finale of The Bachelor.

Senior Amani Nelson, who is president of the club, welcomed everyone and then launched into her set, which focused on recent developments in the news — revelations about Dr. Seuss, increased political polarization due to the pandemic and President Joe Biden’s age.

“I feel like we should remind people of how old he is and just start putting him in the background of historical dramas,” she said. “Like if in Judas and the Black Messiah, right after Fred Hampton’s assassination, they just cut to Joe Biden announcing his candidacy for U.S. Senate.”

Senior Ariella Shua was up next. Her deadpan delivery was smooth, and her punchlines were unassuming yet robust. I’ve hardly ever laughed so much at a set before. Shua reminisced on the day that school got canceled last March.

“I was studying at 5 p.m., found out school was closing at 6 p.m. and turned down a party invitation at 6:01. I had much more important things going on. The Bachelor finale was on that night, and at that point, I didn’t know the next few months would just be me watching TV by myself anyway,” she said.

Among other things, she also talked about wanting to be a lizard so that the cold doesn’t bother her as much (“since I’m Jewish, about half of the country already thinks I am one”) and wanting to become a better writer (“I just feel like there’s always something missing from my writing, and I think that thing is drugs”).

Meanwhile, seniors Harry Kuperstein and Tejasvi Desai discussed GameStop and various aspects of their daily lives. As in previous shows, they both had very strong, articulate delivery, and I thoroughly enjoyed their sets.

Kuperstein highlighted the inconvenience of having to close his browser when accessing his bank account, how “uncool” he looks in comparison to all his friends dropping mixtapes and the ennui of everyday life in general.

“I don’t get why people think we live in a simulation. How could life be a simulation when it’s just so boring?” he said. “You really want to see me work 40 hours at a retail job and then go home and watch Netflix and eat instant noodles?” 

He also mentioned that all his classmates in his economics class have been using an Excel plug-in called Solver to complete problem sets. He comically noted that having never heard of this tool before, had been drawing out the invisible hand itself.

“Isn’t the whole point of economics that it’s an unsolvable science? Like, what is there to solve? I mean, in that case, somebody would have figured out the whole GameStop thing by now, right?” Kuperstein said.

Desai also talked about GameStop but from the standpoint of someone actively involved in retail investment.

“I don’t like Facebook on its own, but paired with Apple — now that’s a look. Don’t even get me started on GameStop; that’s so last month,” she said.

Since watching a Netflix documentary on sugar cartels, she has apparently been doing something she calls “fructose-free February.”

“I wanted to start in March, but ‘minimal maltodextrose March’ just doesn’t have the same ring to it,” she said.

In an interview with The News-Letter, Desai emphasized that she likes to make jokes based on relatable everyday experiences.

“I usually just try to draw on daily things that happen to me, honestly just random experiences or things that I go through,” she said. “So for example, I got into investing recently, and I think that topic is really relatable for a lot of people. I’ve talked with a lot of friends who are interested in investing.”

One particularly notable performance came from lone freshman Ellie Rose Mattoon. Many of her jokes were about her time in high school, which gave her jokes somewhat of a different bent to them. Or maybe I’m just inflating the three-year difference between her and the other comedians.

She talked at length about how people at school used to think she was Asian.

“I went to a high school that was 85% Asian American, and somehow I made it to senior year with half of the class thinking I was Vietnamese, and I was the last to know,” she said. “I must have been a really bad white cultural ambassador; I mean, I agreed that La La Land was overrated, and I put sriracha on my sandwiches during lunch.”

The strangest but certainly the most interesting set came from senior Alex Hecksher Gomes. I love Hecksher Gomes’ sets because he’s so good at balancing absurdist delivery with jokes that are actually well-thought-out.

“Politicians are like, ‘We can’t let the terrorists win, you guys; we cannot let the terrorists win,’ and I’m like, ‘Okay, so not even a little?’ Like, I mean even the Harlem Globetrotters let the Generals run up the score. Gotta keep it close, or people will lose interest,” he said.

The rest of his set explored the idea of statistical p-values through bodily humor. I’ll let you do the math. 

“I’m in a stats class this semester, and all these professors are like, ‘p-value this, p-value that’ — well if you valued pee so much, you should have married it when you had the chance,” he said. 

He also lectured on his refusal to stand while urinating, saying that he preferred to sit.

“I refuse to conform to your little societal norms, okay? I wet the bed well into my teenage years, and not because I was afraid of the dark, no sir — it was my protest,“ he said. “If I was gonna pee, I’d rather do it lying down than standing up, and that is my p-value.”

In an interview with The News-Letter, Hecksher Gomes expressed his fervent hope that viewers would join the Comedy Club once school is back in-person. 

“I think it’ll just be funny seeing people in-person that they won’t even have to tell jokes. Someone could just stand up there and be silent, and just that would be funny,” he said.

Kuperstein encouraged people to try out Comedy Club at least once while at Hopkins.

“Hopefully we were able to brighten people’s weeks,” he said. “Hopefully they feel maybe they want to try stand-up comedy and that maybe it’s something they can do even during this pandemic or definitely, like Alex said, afterward.”

He ended with these sage words of advice: “You don’t want to say when you’re graduating, ‘22 years and not even once.’ Quote me on that one.”

Ariella Shua is a Managing Editor for The News-Letter, and Ellie Rose Mattoon is a staff writer. They did not contribute reporting, writing or editing to this article.

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