The UNC comedy scene: It's no joke
In Chapel Hill, comedy should be taken seriously. But don’t worry, it’s still a laughing matter.
From CHiPs to False Profits to improv nights at the Varsity on Franklin, Chapel Hill is not lacking in comedy. The comedy scene is always improving and expanding — but there have been bumps along the way.
DSI Comedy Theater on Franklin Street closed its doors permanently last month because of sexual misconduct allegations against its owner. While many small communities’ comedy scene would be damaged or even dissolved as a result of such an event, comedy at UNC is as strong as ever.
The Varsity Theater has opened its doors on Saturday nights to improv shows since the closure of DSI.
Co-owner Paul Shareshian said that Kit Fitzsimmons, who previously worked with DSI, began putting together improv nights at the Varsity in mid-August.
“We decided we would do a one night of improv a week instead of our movie show times,” Shareshian said. “We hope it’ll grow over time organically, and we’ll be able to do maybe two shows per night, or even add another night, maybe Friday nights or another night of the week.”
Shareshian said turn out and reception have been consistently positive, with roughly 100 people coming out to the show on the first night alone.
“I’ve only heard positive things coming out,” he said. “Going in they’re really happy, leaving they’re really happy. It just seems like a very positive feel.”
The comedy troupes at UNC declined to comment on the closure of DSI, but members of both CHiPs and False Profits spoke about their own comedy groups within UNC and the importance of their work.
Sophomore political science major Bevan Therien, a member of INCs, the junior comedy troupe of CHiPs, said comedy can help take students’ minds off of troubling current events in the world.
“It’s a way to take things a little bit less seriously,” he said. “To get away from all of the studying, the political situations, and everything else happening on campus and in the world.”
Therien said he performs with INCs two to three times per semester. He also said that CHiPs shows tend to be a packed house, even selling out because of their popularity.
“Comedy is more community based than other types of performances,” said senior English major Madison Schaper. “I don’t know if that’s just a product of what it is or the fact that improv is a team of people working to build each other up. But it’s a unique and exciting experience.”
Schaper, a member of the UNC comedy troupe False Profits, also said that another beauty of comedy is its ability to make people laugh, especially those who are facing difficult times or mental health issues.
“When you have a reason to laugh about something, it can help combat things like anxiety and depression, which I know are things we don’t like to talk about,” she said. “But they are things that kids our age are dealing with.”