From Last Laker Standing to LaughFest

GVL / Courtesy - Sean OMelia
Aaron Schuitema

GVL / Courtesy – Sean O’Melia Aaron Schuitema

Shelby Pendowski

Annually, Grand Valley State University’s Spotlight Productions searches for the funniest student or faculty member through the Last Laker Standing competition.

In mid-January, Spotlight began its audition process. On Feb. 7, 10 selected individuals competed in the semi-finals. After each of them performed seven minutes of material, they selected Aaron Schuitema, Owen Hurley, Lawrence Ensminger and Ginger Ambrosia to go head-to-head in the finals on Feb. 14.

“I heard that GVSU had a Saturday Night Dive, open mic night kind of thing and I went to see when those were and I stumbled on the auditions which were literally like a couple days away,” Schuitema said. “So I was like ‘You know, I will see if I can get a spot,’ and I tried out and that is how it happened.”

After a night full of laughter, Schuitema was crowned GVSU’s 2015 Last Laker Standing.

“That day, I was pretty nervous because from round to round we couldn’t repeat any of the same jokes,” Schuitema said. “Luckily I have enough jokes that I didn’t have to have all new jokes for any of the sets. But, for the 10-minute set, I was really like ‘Oh man, I really hope I do this well,’ and I had to write a lot more new material than in the other two sets just to make up the time.”

This competition wasn’t Schuitema’s first time doing stand-up.

“I started doing it a couple of years ago, and I haven’t been doing too much the past couple of years because I have been moving from school to school,” Schuitema said. “So it (comedy) has been going on for a little bit, at least stand-up, and I have done improv since high school and my first year of college.”

The comedian combined parts of his old acts and new jokes for a winning performance.

“I just took some of the jokes I had already had and then added some new ones,” Schuitema said. “Some of my jokes are just random little things that I notice and other ones are centered around my life a little bit.”

The comedian not only won the title of Last Laker Standing, but also a Keurig to brew tea – coffee isn’t his drink of choice.

“Well I was excited,” Schuitema said. “I don’t show a lot of outward emotion, so I probably looked like ‘Oh yeah, I am kind of happy,’ but I was pretty happy. A little dismay that I got a Keurig – not for the fact that it is a bad gift, but because of the fact that I don’t drink coffee – but luckily it does make ice tea so we are clear for that. But it was exciting.”

Throughout the year, Schuitema will host a variety of Spotlight events including the Saturday Night Dives. Over the years, the Last Laker Standing has performed not only for his GVSU peers, but also for the Grand Rapids LaughFest.

“A great way to start out is LaughFest,” Schuitema said. “That is where I performed first a couple of years ago.”

Winning Last Laker Standing was just a stepping stone for Schuitema, who will continue to perform comedy.

“I enjoy making people laugh,” Schuitema said. “It is probably one of my favorite things to do, and it just feels really good when you are up there hearing quite a few people laughing, and it’s just kind of addictive after a certain point.”

His next performance will be at McFadden’s Restaurant & Saloon in downtown Grand Rapids on March 12 for the LaughFest College Stand-up Showcase. For more information, visit