The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 56.0°F | Mostly Cloudy

Two Compete in Local Comedy Contest; Stahovich Wins Prize

By Sarah Y. Keightley
Editor in Chief

Thomas F. Stahovich G was the grand prize winner in a local comedy contest searching for Boston's funniest college comedian, and Catherine D. Conley '96 was a finalist in the event which took place in late October.

The contest was part of the annual College Fest "Way More Weekend" at the Hynes Convention Center.

As the winner, Stahovich received two round-trip airline tickets to any destination in the continental United States, as well as a chance to perform at the Comedy Connection, a Boston comedy club. The contest promoters chose 15 finalists from dozens of entries to compete at the College Fest.

Both Stahovich and Conley auditioned on-campus in the Student Center, where they each performed a routine before a video camera. "I ran over and auditioned," Stahovich said. "It was completely unexpected."

Conley also auditioned unexpectedly, using a comedic monologue from a play that she had performed in last year's Sigma Kappa Late Nite variety show, she said.

For the contest, the finalists had to prepare three to five minutes of original material. Half of them competed on Saturday, and the other half competed on Sunday. Conley was leading the contest after the first day of competition, but Stahovich garnered more points for his performance on Sunday to win the contest.

Stahovich expected students from Emerson College, which is a performing arts school, to dominate the competition. "It's really surprising that MIT students were funnier than people from performing arts schools," he said.

"They did emphasize that I was from MIT, to my chagrin," Conley said. "I hope that people saw that I was from MIT, and I was not the one doing the Star Trek jokes, that was some geek from Tufts [University]!"

"My humor is very much about getting the audience thinking in a particular direction, and getting them to realize I was talking about something different," Stahovich said. "My comedy is a guy who thinks he's smart but doesn't realize he's missing the boat."

Stahovich said this is one of his best jokes:

"I'm really confused by Sally Struthers. On one channel she's crying aboutfamine-stricken children drinking from the same disease-infested water that animals bathe in, and on another channel she's telling you how to make more money in your own home through correspondence courses. I finally got so confused I called the 800 number and enrolled an entire Latin American village in computer repair."

"I had jokes on everything from driving to sneezing. My biggest bit was about crew, it being Head of the Charles weekend and all," Conley said. Part of her routine was: "What gets me is this weight class thing [in crew]. I mean, for guys they have lightweight and heavyweight. For girls, they really ought to call it lightweight and underweight. Why don't they just tattoo Moo Cow' on my forehead backwards so I can read it every morning when I look in the mirror?"

Conley said she had never done stand-up comedy before "but there was always this part of me that knew I would love it. I came up with a couple of ideas and ran them by a couple of close friends."

Stahovich has been seriously performing comedy for two years. "When I was an undergrad at [University of California at] Berkeley, all my friends told me to leave comedy to train professionals," he said. He has been part of the MIT improvisational group Roadkill Buffet, and has also performed at amateur nights in comedy clubs and participated in other contests. Last year he was a semi-finalist in the WBCN Comedy Riot, which was a contest open to amateur comedians.

"This is something I'd love to be a professional at," Stahovich said. However, he has not had much time to devote to it recently because he is finishing his thesis.