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DSI hopes comedy lottery will draw students

In the Comedy Lottery, the amount of time comedians have for their acts depends on when their name is drawn from a hat. The earlier their name is called, the closer to the standard five-minute time slot they get. As the night goes on, the amount of time a comic has shrinks.

UNC graduate student Andrew Aghapour, who teaches at DSI, said the show features performers from various backgrounds who are all ready to showcase their stand-up skills.

“What’s so fun and interesting about Comedy Lottery is that it is a testing ground or laboratory where comedians practice their jokes,” he said.

Aghapour said DSI chose this performance method for various reasons.

“You get to see more of the experimental and creative and sometimes unexpectedly insightful comedy that you might not get to see in a more polished showcase,” he said.

“It lets us bring as many comedians from as many different backgrounds as possible onto the stage.”

DSI’s associate artistic director Ashley Melzer said she finds it interesting to see how the comedians adapt to their individual time constraints.

“They have to see which bit of their five-minute sketch is going to work the best for their one-minute time slot,” she said.

“Maybe they abandon it all together and decide they’re going to spend that minute talking like a girl scout. They have to get creative in the moment.”

DSI Comedy instructor Vinny Valdivia said a supportive atmosphere is what makes this method work, despite the high-pressure reality of it all.

“If you go up there and know you are going to be supported, that takes down the nerves a little bit, and then you are less nervous and more yourself on stage,” Valdivia said.

Aghapour said with Comedy Lottery all comedians — from the experienced to the novice — are accepted and welcome. Because of this, some unexpected guests have graced the stage.

“With Comedy Lottery, if you’re a 7-year-old doing one minute jokes about why you don’t like school or if you’re a 68-year-old trying comedy for the first time, I’ve seen both such people be extremely successful,” he said.

Aghapour said Comedy Lottery is an all-inclusive event that helps comedians reach not only their comedic potential, but also local audiences.

“This is the opportunity — if students are comedy fans — to walk a few blocks and see comedians that they might one day see on Comedy Central,” he said.

Aghapour said the best part for him is watching new stand-up comics realize they’re funnier than they ever thought they were. The comedians at DSI encouraged students to come to the Comedy Lottery, which is held every Wednesday.

In May, the comedy company moved from its longtime location in Carr Mill Mall in Carrboro to 462 W. Franklin St. for more room.

“It’s going to be a great time, and maybe they should even get on stage,” Melzer said. “Comedy is a great way to increase your confidence and everyone likes someone who is funny.”

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