By Taneen Momeni

Relay for Life UMD hosted a comedy showcase fundraiser for cancer research in the Stamp Student Union’s Hoff Theater on Feb. 26. Local and student comedians presented four-to-15- minute sets to a small, but engaged audience.

Jenny Mandl, a member of the UMD Stand-Up Comedy Club, suggested to Relay for Life to do a comedy show fundraiser, who based most of the event off of a stand-up comedy show Mandl organized last year.

“It was awesome to see the event finally come together!” senior and director of Relay for Life UMD Liz Gillum said.

In addition, the organization worked closely with College Park Open Mic Comedy for the event.

About a month before the show, Relay for Life held student comedian auditions to choose the top five that would perform for the event. In addition, Gillum worked closely with John Hedrick and Alex Asifo, seniors who are part of College Park Open Mic Comedy and assist in running the open mic nights at MilkBoy ArtHouse, to help organize the event, and choose and reach out to the four local comedians.

Anna Unger, American Cancer Society representative, began the show by explaining the importance of this foundation and the changes it has made by listing statistics about the work that they have done in their communities.

“We are the number one provider of cancer research aside from government funding in the country,” Unger said.

After Unger, host Zach Phillips, senior journalism major, took the stage, warming the audience up. He spoke about how much he loves women, mentioning how Serena Williams won the Australian Open and gave birth right after. Segueing into his love for his girlfriend of six years, Phillips clarified how he keeps the relationship fresh for at least eight hours a day, just like the deodorant he got her for Valentine’s Day. After his mini set, he introduced the first performer, Molly Pattison.

Professional comedian and Ohio native Molly Pattison opened her set by comparing herself to the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, claiming that she looks like her if Mrs. Maisel let herself go. Next, Pattison gave the crowd a mini history lesson about this university’s mascot; she described how terrapins were a slave food in Maryland, but the slaves protested it being their main protein source.

The first student comedian performed after Pattison. Senior American studies major Joey Barber utilized audience participation as soon as he stepped on stage by conducting the applause from the audience. Next, he asked if anyone in the crowd juuls. He refers to juuling as an epidemic since he recently encountered a bike rider on campus riding with no hands since they were juuling. Barber then told a story from his childhood about the time he learned he had Tourette’s syndrome and how his mother sent him to Tourette’s camp.

“It’s contagious,” Barber explained. “You go in with four [tics] and leave with 10. It’s like a trading card game where nobody wins.”

The next performer was freshman Koki Belikow. Belikow began explaining how stand-up is like a therapy session where he complains and reveals his darkest secrets, except people laugh. He also gave the audience an excerpt from his childhood, describing a time in which he broke his arm and wrote famous people’s names on it in order to impress the other children in his grade.

Kaleb Stewart, local comedian and Game of Thrones fan, presented his set next. Stewart really engaged with the audience, asking those in the front row questions, such as what superpower they would  have and where they went to high school, multiple times throughout his set. Stewart also touched upon how people, mostly white, will take hats and other labels on clothes so seriously, asking him if he likes to fish because of his Bass Pro Shop hat or if he had ever been to NASA because of his sweatshirt. Stewart also addressed problems about college.

“You know what the worst thing about college, other than the debt, is? Bibliographies,” Stewart said.

Following Stewart’s statements on college was senior government and politics major Jackson James who began his set talking about a little squishy bump growing on his arm.

“I asked WebMD [what it was], and they told me this was gonna be my last show,” James said.

Asifo presented the last student set of the night, asking the audience why we’re so nice. He spoke about tailgating and related to the audience with a warranted thought that when we swiped a stranger up into a residence hall, there is a possibility that they are a murderer. He advised the audience that “it’s okay to be an asshole sometimes.” He ended his set with his own new year’s resolutions and how he plans to better himself this year.

“[I’m] replacing bad habits with good habits, improving myself,” Asifo said.

Finally, headliner and baker Keith Correy started with two mistakes he made in life: attending and graduating from Everest College. Like many of the other comedians, Correy spoke about his family, explaining how they don’t really care about how he does comedy, until he is on TV. He finished off his set explaining how one time he accidentally changed his Facebook relationship preference to say he was interested in men and women, and in response to this, his grandmother reassured him that God still loves him although he is gay.

The Stand-Up to Cancer Comedy Showcase presented by Relay for Life UMD was engaging and allowed the audience to support a good cause while having a laugh. If you are interested in joining the next relay or supporting the organization, you can find more information at www.relayforlife.org/umaryland. Local and UMD comedians can be supported through the open mics that are hosted every Wednesday at 8 p.m. at MilkBoy ArtHouse.

Featured Photo Credit: Taneen Momeni/Bloc Reporter.

Taneen Momeni is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at taneenm@gmail.com.

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