U comics bid for nat’l stage

Eight U comedians advanced to face St. Cloud State comedians.

Teaching assistant of Mechanical Engineering Program David Bennett tells jokes during the Last Gopher Standing comedy competition Saturday at the Whole. Eight comedians will represent University of Minnesota against St. Cloud State University in March.

Anthony Kwan

Teaching assistant of Mechanical Engineering Program David Bennett tells jokes during the Last Gopher Standing comedy competition Saturday at the Whole. Eight comedians will represent University of Minnesota against St. Cloud State University in March.

Raya Zimmerman

Comedian after comedian paraded in front of the dimly lit, packed room of college students. They covered everything from sex to race to Happy Meal-eating squirrels in hopes of winning votes Saturday night.
After more than an hour of twisted comedy, the last contestant took the stage. His white hair and grandfatherly mannerisms gave him the material that no other college student had.
âÄúYou look really familiar,âÄù 63-year-old David Bennett, a mechanical engineering teaching assistant said, while looking at a young woman in the audience. âÄúHow old is your grandma?âÄù
âÄúLast Gopher StandingâÄù drew roughly 250 students and lovers of comedy to The Whole in Coffman Union. Hosted by the Rooftop Comedy National College Comedy Competition,  the talent search finds the funniest stand-up comedians at 32 colleges nationwide.
The 20 competitors were given three minutes each to sell their act to the crowd, hoping for the chance to represent the University of MinnesotaâÄôs comedy team at the regional rival match in March.
Andy Erikson, a member of the 2009 NCCC winning team, emceed the night. She started writing comedy and making videos of friends in high school. After doing an open mic at Acme Comedy Club in Minneapolis, she was âÄúaddicted.âÄù
âÄúI make [the audience] want to be my friend,âÄù Erikson said. âÄúItâÄôs a tactic to make friends.âÄù
At The Whole, each audience member was given a ballot to vote for the top three comedians.
Bradford Paik, a material science and engineering senior, was on EriksonâÄôs team in 2009 and also made it past the first few rounds in last yearâÄôs competition. His success Saturday allowed him another shot at winning the title.
Personal material inspires his jokes, Paik said, and his half-Asian ethnicity is not off-limits.
âÄúItâÄôs a creative release,âÄù he said of stand-up. âÄúItâÄôs doing something completely opposite from the field IâÄôm in âÄî it keeps my sanity.âÄù
Participants in the competition will go through two live performances and five online elimination rounds. After the judgesâÄô selection round May 9, the wittiest comedy team of four individuals will win VIP trips and a performance spot in the TBS Presents Just for Laughs festival this June, where they could take home a national title.
Saturday nightâÄôs opening act, Greg Berman, a marketing and management information systems sophomore who was one of the nightâÄôs winners, has been doing open mics all over the city. He has been trying to expand the stand-up comedy scene at the University and is working on re-registering the Comedy Club student group.
âÄúI think we have the audience for it, we just donâÄôt have the shows.âÄù
The comedy event, which is in its fourth year, is becoming one of the Student Unions and ActivitiesâÄô best-known, and most- attended events, Ashley Kaser, a coordinator of Gophers After Dark, said.
âÄúStudents just like to see what other students can do,âÄù she said.
The NCCC started four years ago when Rooftop Comedy, a media company boasting a national network of comedy clubs and comedians, wanted to find a way to connect with college students.
âÄúBecause weâÄôre so focused on comedy, itâÄôs a great way for us to nurture comedy careers for students who have a special interest in comedy,âÄù Sara Linderman, Rooftop Comedy spokeswoman, said.
Paik and Berman were among the eight comedians to make it past the first round and will be joined by Mario Errico, Cody Raasch, Jay Walker, Matthew Ystad, Shawn Zani and David Bennett. The group will go head-to-head March 21 against St. Cloud State University at the House of Comedy in the Mall of America.