U comedy team wins national competition

Students were voted to compete by U student body.

Four University of Minnesota students survived six elimination rounds to win first place at Rooftop ComedyâÄôs National College Comedy Competition (NCCC) in Aspen, Colo. on June 13. The team, made up of University students Linda Bieza , Trevor Anderson , Andy Erikson and Bradford Paik , was in Aspen from June 10 to June 14. Rooftop Comedy is a company that distributes comedy videos online as well as produces their own original programming. âÄúRooftop blends Internet and video technology with emerging stand-up comics,âÄù Anderson explained. Paik, a University junior, said he had never performed comedy in front of anyone other than his friends before the competition. He added that he had done comedy âÄújust for funâÄù since his first year of college and is majoring in what some may see as the opposite of comedy: material science. Bieza, an art student who also works in budget and payroll at the University, stood out from the team for one reason: her age. âÄúI socialized a little less,âÄù she said. âÄúIâÄôm their momsâÄô age.âÄù While Bieza declined to give her actual age, she said she was neither discriminated against nor shut out in Aspen. âÄúI still felt accepted and got along with everyone and had a good time,âÄù Bieza said. Bieza occasionally does open mics at Acme Comedy Co. in Minneapolis with team member Erikson. Erikson, who seemed to come with the most comedy experience in the group, said she started doing stand-up a couple of years ago. She graduated from the University in May with a degree in graphic design. Erikson did the competition last year with Anderson, who said he dabbled with open mics since then. âÄúIâÄôve always just liked making people laugh and laughing myself, so thatâÄôs kind of where the comedy stems from,âÄù Anderson said. Loren Pomerantz, spokesperson for Rooftop, said the company visited 32 colleges around the country, where any student could perform stand-up in front of their peers. From there, the student population voted for the eight funniest students, who went on to the next round. Eight University students originally performed for judges at Acme Comedy Co., where the number was axed to the final four. Paik said that, personally, it was a spur of the moment decision to compete in the first round. Anderson said that the decision to compete this year was slightly spontaneous for him, as well. He joked about what a friend said to him regarding the decision: âÄúWell, really, what else are you going to do Friday nights?âÄù For one round, the group had to create a video roast of Ohio State University . âÄúWe donâÄôt think OSUâÄôs horrible;âÄù Anderson said in a slightly remorseful tone, âÄúwe had to do it.âÄù Four rounds later, the four University students won the trip to Aspen, for which all expenses were paid by Rooftop Comedy. Pomerantz said the UniversityâÄôs team beat the University of Florida in the semi-finals on June 11 and moved on to battle Emerson College, a small liberal arts school in Boston, for the championship on June 13. At SaturdayâÄôs final, each of the four team members had five minutes to perform stand-up. Despite her experience, Erikson was nervous. âÄúI âĦ didnâÄôt even know what jokes I was going to tell for sure, but I wrote some jokes on the back of my hand,âÄù she said. Erikson will not be eligible for the competition next year since she has graduated, but she was recently accepted into a new summer comedy program put on by Rooftop in San Francisco. Pomerantz said all the elimination decisions were made by audience members and live online viewers, with the exception of the second round, which took place at comedy clubs around the country. The performers âÄúspent a lot of time âĦ building up these online communities,âÄù Pomerantz said. Anderson said the group had a Facebook group to increase their votes and was grateful for the online turnout. âÄúWe brought the funny, but they voted,âÄù he said. âÄúWe could have been the funniest kids there, but if nobody voted, we wouldnâÄôt have won.âÄù Anderson said that in Aspen, the four students were able to network with and get advice from professional comedians, as more than 20 were also performing at the festival. Their advice was consistent, he said. âÄúJust get stage time, try to get as much time that you can get to work on it yourself and get comfortable in front of people,âÄù he said. As for next year, Jenn Stokes, Rooftop ComedyâÄôs national events director , said Rooftop Comedy is planning a similar event for the third annual NCCC and that the company encourages University students to compete again.