Comedy Comes To Campus28 February 2015
If you’re reading this, you probably don’t have a sense of humour. I know that because Jerry Seinfeld said so. According to Seinfeld, the disease of political correctness has swallowed universities whole, enabling them to produce nothing but angry social justice warriors with blogs.
The comedian, who literally made a film about a bee in order to make a pun, told ESPN Radio that college students call out ‘racists’ and ‘sexists’ because “they just want to use those words.” We can thus surmise that making jokes without sexism, racism, or homophobia is utterly impossible. Stand up comedy is dead.
It seems inexplicable that in this climate of suffocating liberal censorship, Melbourne University should decide to host its first ever comedy festival. Simply put, there could not be a single funny person in the entirety of Parkville.
Where would you find such a person?
In the interest of saving comedy, I have searched for any evidence of humour with the desperation of a seagull at a South Lawn Barbecue. And not only have I proven that Jerry Seinfeld was wrong, and that jokes with a social conscience are possible, I have proven that there is a logic to holding a comedy festival at this godforsaken establishment.
The festival will feature acts from both the 2015 Law and Med Revues. In case you’re not familiar, these are shows put together by law and medical school students. They probably should be studying, but have instead spent hours upon hours writing original sketch and musical material so that the people who see them will not only laugh, but generate profit for those in need. That’s right – 100 per cent of proceeds of both the Law and Med Revues are given to charity. If you’re going to try and argue that these are not legitimately humorous shows, you should consider that they have been the training ground of real-life Australian comedians, including Magda Szubanski, Celia Pacquola and Sammy J.
Sammy J himself will actually be performing at festival on the Monday Gala, which will open the six-day event. The MC for the night will be another Law Revue alumnus, Joshua Ladgrove, who performs under the name of Dr. Professor Neal Portenza, which is confusing because he was never in Med Revue and is probably not even a real doctor. Tuesday night will feature a panel on the future and history of comedy at the university, which will probably even discuss the fact that discriminating against people in your comedy is a crap idea. Melbourne comedy legend, Rod Quantock OAM will be appearing, alongside real-life writer and ‘reformed comedian’ Courteney Hocking, and stand-up artist Aamer Rahman of Fear Of A Brown Planet.
But that doesn’t prove anything. Jerry Seinfeld wasn’t criticising current, established comedians who’ve already made their way on stage. He was talking about current students, dragging out the ol’ “the youth are doomed” trope in an attempt to disguise his own fears of irrelevancy. So I must go on. Every night, the festival will feature acts from both university past and present, experienced or otherwise. At the heart of this festival lies the concept of accessibility – it’s about making comedy easier for the uninitiated to view (and create), as well as bringing together existing campus comedians with emerging ones. Just this year, the media office brought out The Fodder, paving the way for the next Hamish and Andy (more UoM alumni). Being comfortable enough to call yourself a “comedian” might be beyond many of those just starting out, but it’s a gateway. Part of what the festival hopes to do is to showcase the fact that there indeed is a gateway, and that this gateway is open. If you believe that comedy ended when Jerry lost touch with his audience, prepare to be surprised.
The Melbourne University Comedy Festival is on from 5–10 October 2015. Tickets and venues TBA. Pick up a program on campus or check out the online guide at http://umsu.unimelb.edu.au/what-is-on/comedy-festival/