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CUAB's Carolina Comedy Festival could see changes

Good comedians change up their material to keep jokes from falling flat.

And next year, the Carolina Union Activities Board will aim to do the same, reevaluating the structure of its annual Carolina Comedy Festival.

Following its 11th year, CUAB will examine the best way to incorporate student interest and could create a differently-styled festival next year, said CUAB program adviser Zoey LeTendre.

The four-day event typically features workshops, a student stand-up competition and shows.

Senior Carly Mathews, Carolina Union president, said events this year featuring cast members of “Saturday Night Live” drew the biggest crowd, signaling a need to keep up with changing student interest.

“The organization plans to look at the best way to serve students and appease their comedic needs,” she said.

Lewis Black has been the main performer at the festival since it was created in 2003.

But Black’s show draws more general admission tickets than student tickets, Mathews said.

Black said at his show Feb. 22 that he might not return next year, which sparked speculation about his future with the festival. But CUAB officials say he will still be involved in future years.

“We certainly don’t think the festival is ending this year or moving on without Lewis,” LeTendre said.

LeTendre said CUAB will discuss balancing Black with another performer in his show to incorporate more student interest.

However, new CUAB officers have just been chosen, so planning for next year’s festival has not begun, she said.

Sophomore Merrick Osborne, CUAB comedy committee chairman, said students were engaged in Black’s show.

“He is an older comedian, but he definitely is fun,” he said.

Kelly Duffy, a sophomore, attended Black’s show for a second year and said she was surprised Memorial Hall was not filled for his set.

“What he talks about is very relevant,” she said. “He talks about the government, the media, things that are interesting right now.”

The festival relies on alumni support. Black is an alumnus, as is a head writer at Saturday Night Live, Bryan Tucker.

A major challenge of the festival is scheduling big performers, respecting their personal time and matching their schedules to campus venues, LeTendre said.

“Each year the comedy festival is this really complicated mix of when we’re able to get dates on campus, reservations and venues, a spot at Memorial Hall,” she said.

Osborne said he hopes marketing improves next year, and new students are attracted to the events.

“Everyone can really pull something from every event we offer,” he said.

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