Student comedians to roast GVSU for charity

GVL / Hannah Mico
President Haas caught crossing his eyes during his remarks at the Fall Commencement in 2013.

GVL / Hannah Mico President Haas caught crossing his eyes during his remarks at the Fall Commencement in 2013.

Erika Collin

Some students are able to say that they’ve made jokes poking fun at Grand Valley State University’s President Thomas Haas, but hardly any are able to say that they’ve made those jokes to his face.

Five students will be doing just that at the Roast of Grand Valley: Featuring President Haas taking place today at 48West Commons at 7 p.m. The event is $5 at the door ($4 at the 2020 Information Desk), and all proceeds are going toward the Michigan chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“We want people to relate to it. Obviously (this event is) about Grand Valley, and we want (students) to come there and just have a good time,” said Tim Layer, volunteer and risk manager of the event. “It’s the end of the year, and it’s a good time for a good laugh.”

The roast will consist of five GVSU students — all experienced campus comedians — performing stand-up comedy for the audience. Not only will Haas be attending the event, but so will Louie the Laker.

“It’s really nice for T. Haas to take his time to come out and help a good cause,” marketing coordinator Kristi Olson said.

Olson and Layer are group members in their Intro to Meeting and Event Management course, in which students are required to divide into groups and organize a charity event that benefits Make-A-Wish.

“We thought, ‘This hasn’t been done before, so let’s try doing this and make a tradition for years to come,‘” Layer said.

Make-A-Wish is a foundation that grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical illnesses. These wishes range from sending a child and their family on a cruise to letting them be a police officer for a day.

“You can see the impact it has, which is awesome,” Layer said. “Hearing all the stories (of the children) makes you want to help even more.”

The organizers of this event aren’t the only people dedicated to the cause. One of the five comedians for the night, AJ Rank, is excited to do what he loves while generating more than just laughs.

“I’ll always do anything for comedy or entertaining,” Rank said. “I love entertaining people. Especially since it’s going toward Make-A-Wish.”

Each comedian will have about 12 minutes in front of the audience to make jokes directed at the campus, faculty, athletics and even the student body.

“I haven’t heard of anything done like this before since I’ve been at Grand Valley,” Rank said. “As soon as I found out T. Haas was going to be there, I had to do it. I had to throw out a couple jokes his way.”

In addition to the comedy, there will informational videos about Make-A-Wish and gift card raffles between each of the stand-up acts in order to encourage the audience to donate to the cause.

“It’s just about helping kids see the light at the end of the tunnel of their sickness,” Olson said. “I want people to know that (by donating) you’re changing not only the child but the whole family’s mentality around (their sickness). It’s really inspiring.”