Laugh Riot: Conversational cracks tickle students

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October 17, 2011

9:54 PM

It started out with a bang: “Every closet is a walk-in closet. A closet that isn’t walk-in is a wall.” Alma Mater Productions played host to renowned comedian Paul Varghese, and those in Lodge One saw quite the show Saturday night.

For such a small venue, Lodge One packed in a whole lot of students. A Facebook event and a couple of fliers scattered around campus brought in quite a crowd, but hopefully AMP can rev up a little more student interest for their next event. Most students only wandered into the show because they “had nothing better to do” or because “it was free.”

Although his television credits include NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” and Comedy Central’s “Live At Gotham,” AMP sifted through a list of comedians before selecting Varghese to perform. After watching some of his YouTube clips, they decided he was the right choice. Hailing from Dallas, Texas, Varghese has been doing stand-up since 2001. He enrolled in a writing course immediately after college and has stuck with the thread of creativity ever since. Although he loves his work, Varghese feels that his constant travel over the last 10 years sometimes gets a little annoying. He finds it very validating to see himself perform on television.

Varghese began his routine with what he called a three-joke test: Minimally offensive quips about black men, midgets and Jehovah’s Witnesses. They proved to be an effective warmup to his cop jokes, which evoked a lot of laughs. His dry sense of humor transitioned to a commentary about his life and experiences: “Every ceiling fan in every apartment I’ve ever had has three settings: low, medium, epileptic seizure,” he said to a round of laughter.

Varghese covered the basic topics: religion, politics and culture. He never strayed too far from the latter, often making comments about his own Indian heritage. Varghese was funny without going overboard: “On this day in history Barack Obama bought a ShamWow;” the few times he did, the audience responded accordingly.

His entire routine had a lot of laughs, but he had the most success in academic cracks: “We all know that AP stands for Asian People.” He also did a great job relating to the students. He incorporated very relevant topics such as parental habits and limited budgets: “Rich people wine and dine, I juice and seduce.” AMP definitely made a smart decision in selecting a comedian who understands the triumphs and trials of youth.

The at-ease attitude with which he approached his audience made for an interesting show. Calm, cool and collected, Varghese merely had a conversation with his audience — albeit a very funny one. If any of his jokes extracted a lesser response, he commented on it, laughed, and moved on. His low-key approach made his audience very comfortable.

If he started out with a bang, then he ended with an explosion: “You know what’s weird about the word ‘nonchalantly’? No one ever uses the word ‘chalantly’ unless you’re black, in the ghetto. Yo, Chalantly!” The show itself drew a very favorable response from the students. Kristin Giordano ‘14 said it was a lot better than she expected, and Scott Kline ‘15 called it “an excellent show.” It seems that Varghese leaves the College with our stamp of approval.

Alma Mater Productions promises more acts in the future. Be sure to catch the third “Comedy Brew” student competition coming up in November with Colin Jost, writer for Saturday Night Live. Paul Varghese opened the season with a well-done introductory performance that will lead the way to more laughs.

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