Student comedians perform at Ceeps

Future comics in the spotlight for Shenaniganza, Pt. 2

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Four comedians standing at the urinals

Jonas Hrebeniuk

Dane Cook and Russell Peters are performing standup comedy at The Ceeps? Not quite. But Western students from the UWO Comedy Club are proving they can be just as funny at Shenaniganza, Pt. 2, this Sunday night.

Second-year psychology student Algis Valiulis, who is better known as Al Val to his friends, felt, aside from Yuk Yuk’s downtown, standup comedy in London was lacking. He came up with the idea of a standup comedy night for students, similar to amateur nights at Yuk Yuk’s, that would open the door to a younger crowd.

After pitching his event to The Ceeps last November, the bar immediately warmed to the idea of a comedy night and Shenaniganza was born.

“It was a massive hit the first time around and [The Ceeps management] said they really wanted to do it again,” Al Val remarks. “Every comedian did really well. For some of them, it was their first time and they were a smash hit ... Everybody was funny; everybody was on.”

This weekend marks the second Shenaniganza and the young comedians are eager for round two. Second-year student Omid Solari’s smart and witty comedy is “10 times more clever than mine,” according to Al Val.

“I did one standup set in high school in a talent show … but there were a lot of constraints in terms of the material I could put out because our principal was there so everything had to be politically correct,” Solari says. “At Yuk Yuk’s, I can pretty much say whatever I want " anything goes. With Shenaniganza, it’s a happy middle ground where I can throw a couple eff-bombs and swear words " it’s not as big of a deal, but I still can’t go out of my way to offend people. I think that’s necessary because usually good comedy doesn’t have to offend anyone.”

AlVal, Ahmad Farooque, L.A. King and Omid Optimus Salari

Others, like current Western students Jeremy Rupke and L.A. King, have already begun opening for local comedians since the first Shenaniganza.

“L.A. King is a girl who " the first time she ever did standup was at the last Shenaniganza and … since then, Yuk Yuk’s has heard about her and she’s been opening for pros. These people are good,” Al Val adds.

While UWO Comedy is a close-knit group, Al Val welcomes other students antsy for a taste of stage lights and laughter and encourages them to simply ask him for a spot on the bill.

This time, expect to hear stories of how Al Val touched a squirrel once and Solari’s knock-off game, Sitar Hero.

“The first time I ever did standup was last year in October,” Al Val recalls. “There was London’s Funniest Person competition downtown " they have it once a year. And I went up there and I completely bombed, nobody laughed at a single joke, but the whole time I was up there I was like, ‘I love this. I love this. I want to do this.’

“It’s five per cent nerves, 95 per cent excitement. I just get pumped, I get fired up before I get onstage.”

Shenaniganza, Pt. 2 is this Sunday at 9:30 p.m. at The Ceeps. Admission is free and it is an all-ages event.

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