It's no secret the UNC campus is not in short supply of dramatic theater. But for those who prefer the funnier side of life, the Carolina Comedy Festival returns for its third consecutive year. As the festival's capstone event, comedian and UNC alumnus Lewis Black will take the Memorial Hall stage for a sold-out show with Kathleen Madigan and Alonzo Bodden. UNC alumnus and "Saturday Night Live" writer Bryan Tucker will serve as the show's emcee. With four days of showcases, workshops and seminars, this year's festival, sponsored by the Carolina Union Activities Board, seeks to expand comedy-related opportunities for students. "We want to make sure as many people can go to as many different events as possible," said Mallory Cash, CUAB's fun committee chairwoman. And considering the big names CUAB has grabbed for this year's festival, maximizing possible attendance will be necessary. "Part of our mission entails putting students into contact with people they wouldn't normally meet," Cash said. In this case the festival finds strong footing in the University's alumni, particularly Black, who was instrumental in getting the project off the ground. "He wanted to help foster an academic environment for comedy," Cash said. Each year Black has found colleagues from the network he has built in the comedy industry and has brought them to UNC. "I'm really just there to kind of funnel comedians and writers I know," Black said. UNC also welcomes back Tucker, who is in his third year of involvement with the festival. During his time as an undergraduate, Tucker and some friends formed the comedy group "Selected Hilarity," which performed in the basement of Morrison Residence Hall and later toured the United States. "The environment at UNC showed me that comedy was something you could pursue," said Tucker, who went on to work for "Mad TV," "The Chris Rock Show" and "Chappelle's Show" in addition to his work with "Saturday Night Live." Among other events Tucker will headline, he will coach students in a comedy-writing workshop at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in the Class of 2000 Lounge. At the same event, students will have the chance to hear from Paul Feig, director of shows such as "Freaks and Geeks," "Arrested Development" and "The Office." It is Feig's first year at the festival, which last year featured British humor novelist Nick Hornby, whose lecture, Cash said, attracted an audience of about 400. Cash said she expects Feig to be equally popular with students. After studying film at the University of Southern California, Feig initially pursued an acting career. This path helped him learn about the business. Feig will impart some of his knowledge during a free screening of an episode of "The Office" at 6 p.m. today in the Union Cabaret. "The more you know and the more you've been exposed to, the more diverse take you'll have on your own work," Feig said. Feig also advised students trying to pursue a career in television to take risks. "You do what you want, and hopefully you're doing what they want," he said. Sixteen students took that risk Thursday night in entering a competition to open for Black on Saturday night. Sophomore Russell Johnson, junior Keegan de Lancie and Duke senior Damian Denoble were awarded the coveted slots, Cash said. Cash said the festival's main goal is to give students a chance to get an inside look into the comedy industry. And if knowledge is half the battle, experience and recognition is the other half, something Feig says is key in making it in the industry. "The only thing you need to do is let people see what you do," he said. "The more you are doing, the better your odds are." Contact the Arts Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. 2007 Carolina Comedy Festival Today Improv Workshop with Upright Citizens Brigade 2 p.m., Union Cabaret Animation Workshop with Grey Blackwell 2 p.m., Class of 2000 Lounge Class with Lewis Black 4:30 p.m., Union Auditorium "The Office" with Paul Feig 6 p.m., Union Cabaret Carolina Comedy Club 9 p.m., Union Cabaret Saturday Stand-Up Comedy Seminar with Lewis Black 1 p.m., Union Auditorium Comedy Writing Workshop 2:30 p.m., Class of 2000 Lounge Lewis Black and Friends (sold out) 7 p.m., Memorial Hall For more information, visit www.unc.edu/cuab/events.shtml
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