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Nick's Comedy Stop hosts Boston's funniest college students

The Beanpot Playoffs
Nick's Comedy Stop.
Wednesday, March 4, 8:30 p.m.

By Joanna Stone
Arts Editor

Network news reporters, camera crews, columnists, students from colleges all across the city and a Tech reviewer gathered at Nick's Comedy Stop Wednesday night to see who would be named Boston's funniest college student and walk away with fame, the title, a trophy, and $1,000.

In the first annual "Beanpot Playoffs," Nick's Comedy Stop has held a series of competitions over the past several weeks to choose the funniest student from each of eight colleges in the Boston area. Students from a single college competed on one of several designated college nights, and the winner from each was awarded a trophy, $100, and an invitation to the playoffs.

Judging by the size of the crowds that gathered and the news coverage that ensued, the competition was clearly a public relations agency's dream come true. It was also a highly enjoyable evening filled with a wealth of young talent and a lot of laughs.

My own bias duly noted, I thought MIT's contestant, Glen Weinstein '92, should have won the competition. Weinstein received the most consistently positive response from the audience. The audience did not stop laughing from his introduction -- "I'm the funniest man at MIT, which is a dubious honor at best. It's like being named the tallest pygmy." -- through his description of the woman he recently began dating. "Courting is the appropriate word. I feel like I'm on trial ... `Your honor, if the defendant will go out with me I promise to be a gentleman, to hold the door for her ... Objection! My client is a woman of the nineties.' " to his admission that he doesn't sleep with anyone he doesn't like unless he's known her for a very long time.

The student who did win the competition was Julie Goldman, from Emerson College, the only female contestant. "Goldman won because she was unique," judges were reported to have said on the evening news Wednesday. While most of the comedians' acts were deadpan and demure, Goldman screamed and grunted into the microphone, imitated male masturbation on stage, and told the audience that the reason she'd become a stand-up comic was because it was the only occupation in which you hold a phallus up to your mouth for five minutes.

I didn't particularly like Goldman's act. I didn't really know what to make of it. I laughed a lot, but it was in response to the nervous energy she created and the strange mixture of shock and pity which her act inspired. She talked about her obesity, her lack of a sex life, her poor relationship with her grandmother. Her speech was peppered with curses and accompanied by obscene gestures.

As another arts writer, Leslie Barnett '92, put it, "She played on her weight and the fact that she was a woman and could man-bash." I enjoyed the man-bashing and as a woman, I was glad to see a female comedian receive recognition, though I thought there were several other contestants who were far superior.

Most of the comedians had their especially humorous moments. I thought I'd heard all the Jeffrey Dahmer jokes possible, but the contestant from Tufts University managed to come up with a new one: "Jeffery Dahmer just came out with a new book, a cookbook. It's called Cooking With Friends." The Harvard University contestant also discussed new book releases: "The Time-Life Do-It-Yourself Books came out with a new series, Do-It-Yourself Surgery."

The Northeastern candidate played on a common experience of his audience. "When you go back home, people say, `Oh, you go to college in Boston, you must go to Cheers all the time.' Yeah, we do, and when we fall down drunk there, they rush us over to St. Elsewhere for treatment."

The evening's featured guest stars, stand-up comedians Caito & Moran, performed during the judges' deliberation. The team capitalized on the college audience theme, singing songs that were dear to the collective memory of the audience, such as "Conjunction-Junction, What's Your Function?" and the theme from The Monkees' television show. After the sing-along ended, Caito expressed doubt that MIT students' childhoods were similar to those of their peers, saying, "All the MIT students are saying what the $#@&?" As the winner was about to be revealed, Caito and Moran brought their act to a climatic close with a rap version of "The Brady Bunch" theme song.

MIT may not have won the competition, but we are all indebted to Weinstein for raising the image of MIT students in the minds of others. Waiting for the T after the show, one unidentified audience member could be heard saying, "She shouldn't have won, that guy from MIT should have won." Imagine that! A student from another school deigning to admit that we at MIT aren't only smart, hard working, and ultimately successful (all taken as commonly acknowledged truth), but that some of us even have a sense of humor.