Comedy festival incorporates student troupes

“This is a showcase of all our respective groups’ talents, as well a chance for our groups to get together and learn and enjoy each other,” event coordinator and Full Frontal Comedy member Michael Haluska said in an email.

Each group will perform for 20 minutes, and a member from stand-up club The Lowdown will open for each troupe.

“I participated in the festival last year,” Lowdown member Joshua Murphy said. “I think they’re doing it better this year, where they don’t have competing shows going on.”
Haluska said the focus will be more group-oriented at this year’s festival.

“That’s what’s really going to get us to bond together and be really funny onstage,” Haluska said.

The IUCCF is the brainchild of senior Tim Hickle. While Hickle has been a member of the University tWits since his freshman year and has made friends in many of the other comedy groups, he remembers a time when such a thing was unheard of.

“When I was a freshman, no one really talked between the groups,” Hickle said. “No one liked each other. It was not a good environment to come into. You come in and everyone hates you and you don’t know why. There was no reason for it.”

Hickle and friends he made in the tWits began attending other comedy groups’ shows to demonstrate companionship. Slowly but surely, the groups started becoming friendlier with each other, he said.

“The more we did that, the more we realized how much talent there was, and we wanted to leverage this community,” Hickle said. “We wanted to do something with it.”

After working on developing a comedy festival centered around bettering, binding and building a closer-knit comedy community, the IU Campus Comedy Festival was created.

Hickle was able to gather enough funding last year to bring the famous Upright Citizens Brigade troupe to IU from New York. The prestigious improv/sketch comedy group not only helped all the groups in workshops, they also performed with the groups on their last day in town.

“That was, I think, the first moment where I felt like there was a true community,” Hickle said. “It wasn’t just fragmented groups of friends.”

Hickle said he is very excited about the festival this year, and though they weren’t able to get enough funding to bring Upright Citizens Brigade back, he said this moment is not about the Brigade.

“Right now it’s not about them, it’s about us,” Hickle said. “It’s about building this community, and that’s what’s important to me and that’s what’s important to Michael. That’s what I’m excited about.”

As Hickle reflected on the four years he has spent trying to develop a comedy community, he said he has  high hopes for the future of that development.

“What’s important is not the number of people even going to the festival or bringing Upright Citizens Brigade,” Hickle said. “What’s really important is bringing together this community of 80-plus comedians for one common cause, and if the underclassmen take seriously that message, we’re only a couple years away from having, what I believe, is going to be the best comedy program in the nation.”

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