Putting comedy to the test

BY JASMINE PUTNEY | MAY 07, 2015 5:00 AM

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Stemming from her belief that the more uncomfortable people are the more they will laugh, student standup comedian Caitlin Medina said she likes to include things people rarely think about in her routines.

“I have a whole bit about farting and people are like, ‘What? She’s a girl; this is so gross.’ But then they think about it and they’re like, ‘Yeah, why is it that I’d rather go down on someone than fart in front of them; how weird,’ ” she said. 

Joined by 12 other members of the University of Iowa Standup Comedy course, Medina will perform at 6 p.m. Saturday in an end-of-semester showcase called “This is Only a Test” at the Englert Theater, 221 E. Washington St. Host of the event and instructor of the course Megan Gogerty said standup comedy is much more challenging than what is often perceived, and she looks forward to seeing all of her students’ hard work pay off.   

“The standup’s job is to tell the truth and to invite the audience to have fun with you,” said the UI theater lecturer. “It’s less about creating a false comic persona and more about pulling from and articulating personal truth.” 

Drawing from her own background as a standup comedian, Gogerty said she tries to expose her students to many variations of comedy through writings, videos, and experiments. The goal, she said, is for them to develop their own brand of comedy onstage that is both intimate and immediate. 

“I regale them with tales from the trenches. But we don’t rely solely on my experience. I want my students to explore a wide variety of approaches,” she said. “I’m not out to make an army of Megan Gogertys. I want their comedy to be specific and individual to them.” 

One of the ways Medina said she does to prepare a routine is by making lists of different things she notices about herself or the world around her. Then she analyzes what may be weird, hard, stupid, or scary about the topic. 

“You might have to try a joke 17 times before it works, and that’s what’s so awesome: when you finally do have a set that’s primed and beautiful. You’ve worked hard for this,” she said.  

Medina said she draws much of her inspiration from some of the worst things she has been through in life.

Though she predicts it will be a fun night for the audience, Medina said the showcase will be a bittersweet end to the class. She said the experience helped her grow significantly as a comedian, due in large part to the guidance of Gogerty. 

“She’s taught me to be confident in myself and what I bring to the table that it’s OK to talk about controversial things,” she said. “She’s taught me to play at the top of my intelligence and that it’s OK to fail. Bombing is OK, and literally everyone is going to do it.  I’m kicking ass just by getting up on stage and putting myself out there. Doing standup is wicked crazy hard, and being a female doing it is even harder, but I did it.” 

“This Is Only A Test” Student Showcase
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Englert, 221 E. Washington
Admission: Free

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