Every Saturday night at 8 p.m., around 10 comedians perform to a packed room in Front Room Coffeehouse, located in Ohio University’s Baker Center.
In this long-running event, held by the Blue Pencil Comedy Club, each comedian is given approximately five minutes of stage time to impress the audience with his or her sense of humor. Jokes range from anything involving failed relationships to high-school horror stories.
Blue Pencil is a student-run organization that brings amateur comedians to the OU stage for fellow students and Athens residents in general, to enjoy (or not). Comedians who perform are mostly club members but don’t have to belong to the club, or really, be students at all.
With each performer only given about five minutes to perform, the pressure can be intense. So it’s not uncommon to see some comedians perform on stage with a sheet of paper containing notes to help them stay on track with their planned jokes.
“I have a pre-planned set [of jokes],” OU junior Nathan Hart, a two-year veteran of Blue Pencil’s stand-up night, said at a Sept. 28 performance in the Front Room. “I keep it on a notecard so there’s not a risk of me blanking.”
Yet, even with a card full of Jokes, Hart said that nerves still become an issue moments before he goes on stage. “Beforehand, I don’t know if there’s anyone who’s not nervous. But when I’m up there, I’m comfortable [and] I’m not as nervous anymore. It’s just the anticipation of it.”
Delaney Murray, president of the Blue Pencil Comedy Club, said that the environment at OU and in the Athens community helps make many of the comedians feel more at ease when performing on stage, something she says makes the jokes translate better to the audience.
“There’s really not much to be afraid of,” Murray said. “We don’t really have issues with hecklers or anybody being rude to our comics, which is great. This is a pretty good place to start doing comedy [because] we have an open-minded crowd and people who are supportive.”
Murray, a senior at OU, has been part of the Blue Pencil Comedy Club for four years. Although she’s a journalism major, she said that comedy is a passion of hers and gives her a sense of relief, as is the case with many of her fellow club members.
“I love doing stand-up, and I would love to keep doing open mics. If I could get professional (jobs), I would absolutely do it. Anytime someone asks me to do a show, I say yes, because I just love performing.”
While the club has 20 consistent members, most of them OU students, members of the community are also invited to participate in open mic events.
“Anyone who is interested in doing stand-up can come out and sign up. We don’t restrict people from coming up. It’s a free space to come [perform] comedy and enjoy comedy,” Murray said.
And with all shows being free of charge, students and community members alike can enjoy a night of laughter without worrying about the cost.
“This year, I’ve gone every weekend to all of their shows,” OU junior Jackie Grant said. “I’ve been coming since I was a freshman. It’s kind of a tradition to go every weekend, and it’s fun to see other people (talk about) what they like to do.”
Grant added, “Blue Pencil is the best way to get to know the comedy of OU. These people have been doing comedy for a while. [It’s] the best place to go if you’re looking for someplace to laugh.”
The Blue Pencil Comedy Club meets 6 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday in Baker Center. Blue Pencil occasionally has a gig at Donkey Coffee in Athens, including this Friday evening, Oct. 11, at 8.