A New Dose of Laughter

Student improv groups have long enjoyed popularity on the Kenyon scene, giving actors a chance to exercise their comedy muscles while providing everyone else with some relief from academic pressure in the form of zany skits and cheerful irreverence. This past year, a new group emerged to offer doses of the best medicine: the College's first standup-comedy ensemble.

The seven student comedians, who call themselves Two Drink Minimum, gave their first show last November and were so popular that future performances had to be moved from Philander's Pub to the Brandi Recital Hall in Storer Hall. Over the course of the year, they did six shows in all.

Each of the comics--there are five men and two women--performs individually. Material ranges from wry commentary on the media and popular culture to intimate anecdotes about family, boyfriends, and girlfriends. The tone ranges from boisterous to dry. "We have different styles," says Geoff Nelson '05, one of the troupe's organizers. "We keep
our own mannerisms, our own personality."

His partners in laughter: Davy Andrews '06, Carolyn Barrett '06, Gretchen Buehler '05, Rubin Miller '06, Paul Narula '06, and Phillip Thompson '07.

Although standup is very much an individual form, the seven find it helpful to meet together to try out and fine-tune material. "So much depends on subtle things like inflection and timing," says Nelson. "With a small change, you can take a joke from being entirely unfunny to absolutely hilarious."

One of the year's highlights was a spring-break tour. The group played gigs at a comedy club in New York and at several colleges: Franklin and Marshall, Brown, Bowdoin, and Bates (where they actually got paid, thanks to the fact that Nelson had a friend on the student activities planning board).

"We want to expand on that," says Nelson. "It's pretty easy to get college students to laugh, but that's not a general audience. We want to do more clubs. That's the litmus test."

The plan is to bring in three new members next year, enough to send out teams of three or four comics to do paid appearances at clubs and on campuses throughout the Midwest, with each comedian doing a fifteen- to twenty-minute show. Also planned are eight shows at Kenyon, four each semester. Over the summer, the members are going to prepare a press kit, try to line up engagements, and write as much material as possible.

Nelson, a history major, dreams of a career in standup, although he knows that the field can be cut-throat, and he has plenty of experience with the psychic challenges. "It's always terrifying," he confesses. "You worry, 'Am I funny at all?' It's the scariest thing I've
ever done."