Crossing a gas station clown and a pickle

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Manifesto Theatre members put on a night of stand-up comedy on Friday. From left to right, José Ivan Prieto, Tommy Milo, Curtis Bodiker, and the evening's host, Hanna Williamson. (The Mirror/Mary Harbert)

In Frasier room 005, jokes ranged from topics about a gas station clown confrontation to the story of an old woman disapproving of a midsummer Christmas pickle ornament purchase. UNC’s very own stand-up comedians did not disappoint at Manifesto Theatre’s “No Mic Comedy Night” on Friday. The line-up was small, but the payoff was big as the performers had the whole room hollering with laughter.

Stand-up comedy is a comic style where a performer stands before an audience and shares stories, ideas, or witty remarks in order to humor the audience. Performer Tommy Milo was quick to get the audience rolling with laughter, having no microphone.

“The challenge of performing without a mic is that I don’t know what I am supposed to do with my hands,” Milo said, making exaggerated hand gestures. “It’s like my first date all over again.”

The room turned out to be the perfect space to create an intimate and comfortable environment as it has been recently renovated. With a small stage space, open layout and a new coat of black paint, it is a place of creativity. Curtis Bodiker, the president of Manifesto Theatre, explained why it was important to choose this location.

“When people picture stand-up comedy it’s one microphone and a stool,” said Bodiker, a sophomore theatre education major. “I thought, ‘What if we just cut the microphone and put it in a really contemporary space? Like a close space where people can just get up and talk. We take away the fear, the scary part of it, which is the microphone and speaking into it.’”

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Manifesto Theatre, according to Bodiker, is a way for interested students to try new things with their art and gain new experiences.To Bodiker, stand-up comedy can be a great tool to introduce risk in their art.

“Stand-up comedy is really hard because you don’t know what’s funny until you go up and try it and say it and people will either laugh or they don’t,” Bodiker said. “I thought this would be really cool tool for people who wanted to try stand-up comedy or have always been curious about it. I think there is a learning benefit to it as well.”

To many of the performers, stand-up comedy is a path to be creative and think critically about the art of comedy. José Ivan Prieto, a junior acting major and performer, explained his inspiration for his performance and his writing process for it.

“I watched ‘Seinfeld’ in the middle of summer and I thought this is something I might be interested in,” Prieto said. “When I heard the announcement that they were doing this… I just started working and I looked up YouTube videos about how Jerry Seinfeld writes jokes. I just started writing because I knew the second that I wrote something … it wasn’t going to be flat out funny instantly. It was about like editing it and putting criticism to it and finding what I found funny.”

Hanna Williamson, a sophomore acting major and member of UNC’s improvisational theater group “Chaos,” hosted the event. The event had a strict guidelines of no hate speech or insult comedy, where insults are used as jokes, which she reminded the audience and performers of when she introduced the event.

“Since this is our first time it was just really important to create a very positive and exciting environment,” Williamson said, emphasizing the importance of these guidelines.

The audience, including UNC student Jazzy Middleton, seemed to enjoy this welcoming environment as well, applauding and laughing with the performers.

“I loved it. I think it should happen more often,” Middleton said.

Manifesto Theatre intends to host “No Mic Comedy Night” monthly.

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