Comedy tour discovers on-campus talent

RooftopComedy’s search for the funniest college students in the country makes a stop at Temple.

When comedy is so funny that people are literally falling out of their seats with laughter, it’s got to be a good show.

RooftopComedy’s National Stand-up College Competition tour came to Temple earlier this month and had people not just laughing but doubling over and wiping tears from their eyes.

Aaron Miller, president of the TU Comedy Club, is one of eight winners in the first round of RooftopComedy’s National Stand-up College Competition (Carroll Moore/TTN).

The Stand-up College Competition is part of the RooftopComedy tour that visits 32 college campuses to find the funniest college students.

Though this is the second-annual competition, this was Temple’s first year participating. Twenty-four aspiring stand-up comics went onstage in the Student Center’s Underground to show off their talents.

Aaron Miller, president of the TU Comedy Club and one of the competition’s winners, helped put the event together with the assistance of the club’s co-president, Nicole Eckenroad. The two met in the summer of 2008 while in the Upright Citizens Brigade, an improvisational theater school in New York City. They soon learned they shared the same sense of humor.

With inspiration from actresses like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and TV shows like The Office, the two aim to take their comedic dreams to bigger places.

“I would love to one day be on SNL,” Miller said.

Eckenroad also performed at the event as one of only two females. Eckenroad attributes this to the fact that stand-up comedy is mostly a male-dominated profession.

“A girl could never get away with the same jokes a guy would make,” she said.

The event was packed with more than 100 students, filling up all the seats and booths with some even sitting on the floor. With the lights dimmed and refreshments being served, the Underground looked like a real comedy club.

The host, comic David James, opened the show with a short set of his own and went on to introduce all the contestants. The contestants were each given three minutes onstage. Some played guitar and made jokes, sang songs with humorous lyrics and used one-liners and punch lines. One student even performed card tricks.

Though all the contestants put forth their best efforts, only eight could be chosen, and the audience did the judging. Each member of the audience was given a slip of paper to choose his or her three favorite comics.

The final eight were junior business major Steve D’Agostino, junior BTMM major Matthew D’Avella, junior business major Greg Forster, junior regional planning major Greg Herzog, junior film and media arts major Nathan Jaiyeola, sophomore communications Rudy Mezzy, junior advertising major Aaron Miller and undeclared freshman Stephen Sudia. They will continue on to the Regional Rivals Match, where they will compete against students from the University of Pennsylvania at Helium Comedy Club.

In a bracket similar to that used in NCAA basketball, all 32 schools will compete against each other, and four will be left at the end. Those four teams will compete in the 2009 Aspen RooftopComedy Festival.
Comedians can upload their own videos to

“RooftopComedy is like YouTube for stand-up comedians,” said Danielle Shingleton, coordinator of the event.

Shingleton said she believes some of the funniest comics go unnoticed because they’re in college and have no venue to perform at.

“We want to foster these young comedians,” she said. “We don’t want them just giving up.”

A chance to perform comedy onstage was all some of the contestants needed, and some looked like they had been doing stand-up for years.

Winner Stephen Sudia has only been doing stand-up for a year. While participating in his high school theater program, Sudia was usually given the funny roles in plays.

“If they needed someone to wear a dress or something, they’d get me,” Sudia said.

Miller was impressed with how many people showed but even more impressed with the quality of the show.

“I think what makes something funny is unexpected, but you won’t be able to do it unless you’re confident,” Miller said. “Having a lot of energy and confidence is important.”

Manuel Agurto can be reached at

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