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The newbies

Think accounting is hard? Try standup

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The pros

It's not all giggles and rubber chickens

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The vets

These are not the ravings of a lunatic

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Profile: Ryan Vaughn, adjunct professor

“Comedy is more than just punch lines. There’s a cultural significance to it.”

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Profile: Matt Ritter '01

“Stage has always been my comfort zone.”

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Profile: Jen Kwok '04

“I’m lucky because I’m starting to make a living at it, three or four years into my career.”

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Profile: Aaron Gold '10

“I try to take bad things that happened to me and turn them into comedy.”

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Profile: Adam Hunter

“Literally, my job is to say whatever I want.”

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Profile: Avi Liberman ’93

“Everybody has off nights, but when it’s working, it’s a great feeling.”

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Profile: Paul Morrissey ’96

“I basically kind of failed upwards.”

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Profile: Andy Kindler '78

“When I’m elderly, please come see me when I’m playing the condo circuit in Florida.”

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Profile: Paul Reiser ’77

“I know what really good comedy should sound like now. I’m tougher on myself.”

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Return to the first page of the Cover Story.

Fall 2011

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Simone Tieber photo illustration

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Most day jobs just aren't funny enough

Standup comedians simply refuse to acknowledge the law of gravity, an ignorance that enables them, like countless Saturday morning cartoon characters before them, to float above the ordinary, gaining a perspective that mystifies and surprises.

The best comedians make it look easy, like it’s the most natural thing in the world to stand in a spotlight before a roomful of strangers expecting you — even daring you — to make them laugh. Piloting a standup career is even more challenging, taking years of constant writing, nonstop hustling and painful bombing.

It’s a rare person who can find humor in such a grind.

Yet, at least eight Binghamton University alumni have taken the leap, from a rookie who first performed at Caroline’s comedy club three months after graduation to a successful pro developing a new act for the first time in 25 years. Their degrees cross the spectrum — finance, English, marketing, music — but at Binghamton, all gained lift by honing their intelligence, insight and intuition.

And now they’re defying gravity.


Learn more:

Matt Ritter on the Web:

Jen Kwok on the Web:

Adam Hunter on the Web:

Avi Liberman on the Web:

Paul Morrissey on the Web: More at

Andy Kindler on the Web:

View a sample of Adjunct Professor Ryan Vaughan’s standup, which he performs once a year for students.