Making the rivalry funny
The crosstown rivalry between USC and UCLA is no laughing matter, but in the second annual âLaugh Bowl,â USC and UCLA will each send five comedians to perform head-to-head in a stand-up comedy competition hosted by The Laugh Factory.
The USC audition round is on Monday, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Hollywood Comedy Club. Each comedian will perform three-minute sets in hopes of moving on to the next round, in which the top-10 auditions from both schools will be posted online. The five Trojans and Bruins with the most votes are promoted to the semifinals in January.
USC students are encouraged to come out to the Laugh Factory on Monday. In addition to seeing some talented Trojans, USC students who make it to The Laugh Factory Monday will watch stand-up sets from professional emcees and a special comedian guest.
Laugh Bowl creator and Laugh Factory executive producer Daron Moore said she originally thought of the show as a way to increase student interest in comedy.
âWhat better way to get students interested, as well as search for new talent, than to create a college comedy competition and utilize the great rivalry to get the students passionate?â Moore said.
But the school rivalry and the local talent turned it into something else. Instead of a promotional event, it became a matter of collegiate pride. The first show surprised Moore, who said she was impressed by the variety of student turnout.
âThere were a few students from last year that had never performed stand-up before and those who were experienced comedians and/or actors. We had a wide range of students who tried out, from athletes to frat boys to theatre and acting majors,â she said.
One of the more experienced comedians was Laugh Bowl winner Devin Field, a junior majoring in screenwriting and member of USCâs Second Nature improv group.
Field began doing stand-up at age 15 at open-mic nights at his high school, where he was one of the few comedians.
âIt was mostly bad poets and singer-songwriters. Youâd sit through so many unrequited love poems, [the audience] was so tired of feeling sad they would literally laugh at anything,â he said.
But the Laugh Bowl offered a tougher crowd, and though Field has been performing stand-up in small clubs for years, he found the competition to be a learning experience.
âYou have to constantly be honing a good seven to 10 minutes of material, which is really valuable to have as a stand-up comedian,â he said.
Field was also able to make industry connections through his participation in the Laugh Bowl.
Although it wasnât part of his official prize, Field met with an MTV representative who attended the finals and has since run into him at shows around the city; eventually the representative offered Field an internship at the network.
Similarly, Field was given the chance to be a part of the Laugh Factoryâs Fresh Faces lineup after the competition ended.
âThat was the coolest part. I got to perform with a bunch of really great underground comedians who are just starting to get on TV,â he said.
When MTV contacted Moore about attending the final round of last yearâs competition, she couldnât have been happier.
âI was delighted that the student comedians who had worked very hard to make the auditions were going to get the exposure they deserved,â she said. âIt was a great feeling to see that the event was getting so much attention.â
This year, the Laugh Bowl hopes to be even better positioned to give college comedians a start in the industry, with MTV talent and casting representatives attending every round of the competition.
The winner of the Laugh Bowl will receive a meeting with MTV and a spot in the MTV Comedy Showcase, an event attended by industry people looking for new talent for upcoming projects.
In addition to networking opportunities and industry exposure, participants gain valuable performance experience and educational guidance.
âStudent who make it past the semifinal round will get the chance to attend every open mic at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood and receive one-on-one training from [Laugh Factory founder] Jamie Masada.
Getting up to perform in front of seasoned professionals and industry scouts can be daunting for some college comedians, but being among fellow students during the competition helped. Field was joined by other members of Second Nature, which helped ease his nerves.
âI could just go out there with my friends. I wouldnât have done it otherwise,â he said.
But the Laugh Bowl is also a friendly competition between crosstown rivals. In a recent Daily Bruin article, a UCLA competitor from last year argued that, despite Fieldâs win, the Bruin comedians were funnier than Trojans throughout the entire night. But Field would beg to differ.
âLook at the results. USC came out on top,â he said. âYou wouldnât say that the Texas Rangers were better than the Giants. Because they werenât. They lost.â
Moore notes that she was very impressed by the turnout at UCLAâs audition round, which took place last Friday. Given the performance, Trojans might need to watch out.
âThe level of talent has risen considerably from last year,â she said. âUSC needs to bring their A-game.â