Comic relief

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.



Profile: Aaron Gold '10

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

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Provided
Aaron Gold caught the attention of alumnus Billy Baldwin '85 at a Commencement ceremony where both were speakers.

A fellow alumnus gave Aaron Gold ’10 a big break before Gold even received his diploma. Gold had just given the student address at Fall Commencement and was rushing offstage to take care of some urgent business.

“From the second the ceremony started, I had to pee,” he laughs. “And I was going on last. It was three hours of me holding it. I did my speech, and I was thinking, ‘great, now all the undergrads are coming up to shake hands, I can use that opportunity to go.’ I start to walk off the dais and somebody stops me, and I just thought, ‘This better be good.’”

It was.

Fellow alumnus Billy Baldwin ’85 wanted to talk to him about comedy. He told Gold that he knew the owner of Caroline’s on Broadway, one of the most famous comedy clubs in the country, and that if Gold wanted, Baldwin could probably get him a spot during new talent night. Gold wanted.

Three months later, Gold stepped onstage and opened with a joke about being Jewish.

“I try to take bad things that happened to me and turn them into comedy,” Gold says. “That’s become my reaction to whenever something really upsets me: Where’s the funny side of it? That’s something I’ve had to train myself to do. Ever since I started implementing the real things that happen to me, the negative things too, I got funnier, and I felt better about myself.”

As a new comic, Gold still feels the sting when his act bombs. At a recent open-mic show, he was comic number 35 in the lineup — “So the audience was already gone,” he says. Then, during his act, he forgot the self-deprecating part and just came off as cocky and offensive. He heard nothing but crickets.

“I felt bad about it for a night,” he says. “But then I woke up, and I was just over it.” His friends in comedy assured him that bombing is a rite of passage and makes a comedian stronger. “And that being the worst I’ve ever bombed is kind of uplifting because there’s nowhere to go but up,” Gold says. “Since then I’ve only done well on stage.”

This early in his career, Gold is absorbing every experience he can, from doing magic tricks at a toy store to trying out improv. “I've actually decided to take a break from standup, as I found more of a love in improv comedy,” he reports in an e-mail in October. “I now intern at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and the Magnet Theatre, while taking classes and performing with my improv team, Poker Night.”

“I like having to earn everything from the bottom up,” he says.