Crumbling under the pressure of Last Laker Standing

Chris Slattery

Hey, what are you doing tomorrow night around, say, 9? Yeah, Friday night, time to party! Get stoked!

But before you do, have you considered Last Laker Standing? If you read the paper last year around this time, you’ll remember that I wrote a column about how no one should attend the event. Then, like the hypocrite I am, I, well, competed.

It is an incredibly surreal experience for the comedians, because in its own way, Last Laker Standing decides who are some of the funniest people at GVSU — who gets the biggest applause, who gets the most laughs, who interacts with the audience in the most personable way. These are also known as “life skills.”

You may know funny people, the kind of person who says sarcastic comments or makes mean jokes, but it takes a certain amount of confidence to get up on stage and stylize it, and there are very few opportunities in college for that to be judged on such a public and democratic level. Our athletes are under an overwhelming amount of scrutiny every time they compete, but at the same time, there is only so much that a body will allow. Conversely, the mind can go anywhere, can make all kinds of observations and connections (“Fireflies are pretty but fire flies are terrifying”) but it’s not until there is an audience that a joke-teller knows what is funny and what isn’t.

Comedy doesn’t follow any rules as to what is funny, so the joke-tellers have to really play everything by ear, like a pianist who hits the keys with the side of his head. And that’s terrifying.

Comedian Mike Birbiglia addressed these fears when he said, “When people don’t like a play or a movie, they can say, ‘We didn’t like the set or the script or the costumes.’ With standup comedy, if people don’t like it, they basically say, ‘We don’t like you. Y’know, your personality.’”

Bombing at a comedy event is a terrible feeling. When a joke misses the target completely, it feels as though you’ve worked all week on a presentation for class and the professor announces your grade in the middle of your PowerPoint: “Fail!” It’s humiliating, it’s embarrassing, and doesn’t say much about your understanding of other people.

Heckling is different. In an already high-stress situation, their drunken screams don’t help any. It’s being a jerk for the sake of it, because no one who has ever heckled has had anything constructive to say. No one says, “I think you need to adjust your timing slightly!”

Greg Monahan is hosting this year’s semi-final round and the doors open at 8:30 p.m. How I told everyone not to go last year, I want you and everyone you know to come to this free event ten times more this year. I’m not using this to try and get more votes because I trust people to vote on who they think is the funniest (and I will lose graciously). Instead, I just want to see as many bodies in the seats as possible; if I crash, I want to burn as well.

When that happens, let’s go party!

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