Are you S.I.C.K of Bush too?

By Kylee Dawson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Comedy troupes gather at UA for 12th annual comedy festival

Comedians like Jon Stewart and Jay Leno aren't the only ones who poke fun at George W. Bush.

Since "Dubya" has been one of the most topical individuals in American comedy for the past 3 1/2 years, he will also be the target of several improv and sketch comedy troupes at the UA this weekend.

The 12th annual S.I.C.K. Comedy Festival, entitled "S.I.C.K. of Bush," will be held Saturday in the Social Sciences building, Room 100, at 8 p.m. Admission is $2.

UA comedy troupes Comedy Corner and New Kevin, as well as Arizona State University troupes Farce Side Comedy Hour and Barren Mind Improv, will perform audience participating improv and original comedic sketches.

"New Kevin is the UA's only long form improv comedy troupe," said media arts junior Justin Thomas, a member of Comedy Corner.

Farce Side is a sketch comedy troupe. "They're hilarious, they're innovative, they love musical acts, and their material is golden," Thomas said.

Barren Mind does improvisational comedy. "They are also quite hilarious, and they do short form improv games," he said.

Comedy Corner's form of improv consists mainly of improvisational drills actors use for practice, such as the scenarios often seen in "Whose Line is it Anyway?" The troupe also writes and performs its own material for sketches.

Comedic inspirations include Second City, The Groundlings, the Upright Citizens Brigade and "pretty much anyone except SNL," Thomas said.

He said the troupe has existed for more than 25 years and is the oldest college sketch comedy troupe in the country. Members of Comedy Corner started S.I.C.K., short for Southwest Intergalactic Comedy Kermis, 12 years ago.

"This year's festival is going to be fun, possibly political, possibly not," Thomas said. "It'll be fun for sure, though."

Arnie Niekamp, a former member of Comedy Corner who has studied at the Improv Olympics in Chicago, will host the event.

"He occasionally performs with New Kevin, and it's expected that he'll sort of emcee the festival, providing interludes and transitioning from one group to the other, cracking jokes and being funny along the way," Thomas said.

The show does have a political theme, but may contain more than political material.

"I'm almost positive that most of the people in the group are Democrat or liberal or whatever you want to call it. But I think we saw a group last year called Schadenfreude," media arts junior Sierra Ornelas, producer of Comedy Corner, said. "And we did a workshop for them and one of the things they said was that you have this really great platform to say what you feel. And in the comedy, it's better that it's truthful. And I think that that's what we're effectively doing."

New Kevin, an improv troupe consisting of mostly science majors, was founded by Shaun Clayton, a UA alumnus, once he left the Charles Darwin Experience in 2001.

"We don't aim to do political stuff," Clayton said. "That's why we were a little wary of having this event be politicized because we would like it to be about the comedy and not necessarily the politics. But we're fine with that."

Members of the six-piece troupe incorporate audience participation with long-form improvisational stylings like that of their greatest comedic inspiration, Del Close, who founded the Improv Olympics with Charna Halpern in Chicago, where many pioneering comedians like John and Jim Belushi began their careers.