Sunday, April 23

UCLA comedy club place for training


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Thursday, May 30, 1996

Group to perform at Sunset tonightBy Lori Swingle

Daily Bruin Contributor

The UCLA comedy club is more than a group of funny people
putting together a few routines. It’s more than weekly workshops.
And it’s more than performances.

"It’s more like a comedy 12-step," says member Greg Niles.

Instead of coffee breaks, member Chris Plain says, the group
prefers to "cry and hug."

The support system otherwise known as the UCLA comedy club,
performing tonight in Sunset Village, puts on shows throughout the
year not only at UCLA but also on other campuses and at local
comedy clubs. The club serves as a training ground for aspiring
comics and people who simply love comedy.

While tonight’s show, the club’s final UCLA performance, is but
one act in a larger production, the group generally likes to put on
a more substantial sketch- comedy/stand-up variety show.

"I like doing shows at UCLA because the crowds are always really
friendly and receptive, and it’s a good place to try out new
material," says Steve Callaghan, a club member and UCLA alumnus.
"Dykstra shows have always been some of our best."

"Performing at comedy clubs is also fun, but we usually go on at
2 a.m. after some guy with a sock puppet," adds Mike Phirman, the
club’s president.

The comedy club not only gives its members an opportunity to
grow as performers, but also as writers. At weekly workshops
members throw out suggestions and work together to create the
funniest possible material. "We’re very supportive of one another.
Comics can be a tough crowd but this environment is only helpful,"
says Phirman.

In the UCLA Comedy Club’s 17 year history, several members have
gone on to successful careers in comedy. Ed Soloman, who was the
first president, wrote both of the "Bill and Ted" movies. Shane
Black, another former member, wrote both "Lethal Weapon" and "The
Last Boy Scout." Chris Hardwick, the host of MTV’s "Singled Out" is
also a recent member of the club.

As for the current members’ professional aspirations, Phirman
says, "All of us have fun with the idea of it, but it’s a tough
thing to rely on." Callaghan currently writes for "Singled Out" and
performs with a renowned L.A. comedy group weekly.

The club has successfully drawn in the admiration and respect of
professional comedians. "In the past we have put on shows in the
Coop where we perform for about an hour and a half, and then a
headliner, a famous comedian, will go up and do a set," Phirman
says.

"We are going to try to organize more of these types of shows,"
Callaghan adds. "These types of shows are good for a number of
reasons. Not only do they help draw a crowd, but it also gives us a
model. You get some ideas from them and see what they’re doing
right, and how you can make these things work, too."

Next year the comedy club plans to put on shows in the Coop
every other week in addition to their weekly meetings. Experience
on the stage is the main goal of the club members; however the
weekly workshops are an invaluable tool in the development of their
personal comedy skills.

"Everyone tries to come each week with material, and someone
will say, ‘do you ever notice how … ‘ or ‘what’s the deal with
… ‘ and then everyone adds their own ideas," Phirman says.
"Meetings are the embodiment of creating skits out of the ideas we
all have. This is where we hone our comedy skills," he adds.

Everything is a target for jokes when it comes to the group’s
members. Members can go on and on about the daily events most
overlook. Girlfriends, strangers, even Westwood’s own Falafel King
are all raw material for future shows.

Much of the humor arises out of a group effort toward achieving
a single goal: a funny show.

Most members of the group are hopeful that their senses of humor
will be profitable later in life, but for now they are content to
have fun and make the most out of the comedy club.

"(Professional Comedy) is not a very sturdy basket in which to
put one’s eggs," says Phirman. "I don’t know if it would be
something that would bring home the bacon, and I don’t know where
I’m going with the whole breakfast theme, but there’s definitely
one here."

EVENT: The UCLA comedy club performs tonight at Griffin Commons
at 8:30 p.m.

"I like doing shows at UCLA because the crowds are always really
friendly and receptive, and it’s a good place to try out new
material,"

Steve Callaghan UCLA alumnus

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