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The Blue & Gray Press | August 19, 2019

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Awkward Jokes Prompt Reluctant Laughs at ‘Hahas’


Saturday evening, attendees of the fifth annual “HaHas for TaTas”  student comedy show were offered more than just a clever name as they were treated to an evening of good, clean, awkward fun in the name of breast cancer fundraising.
The event host, Mattson Fields, led audience members through the evening’s program, which opened with a curious combination of a performance by the University of Mary Washington’s own Symphonics club and the Object Manipulation Group (OMG.) While this may have been an unintentional double booking, the odd arrangement was a testament to the quirky tone of the night.
The members of Symphonics treated audience members to two songs. Most notable was the second song, in which one member provided a beat box upon which the rest of the group layered their various parts. The result was a diverse sound that reverberated throughout Dodd Auditorium.  The OMG, however, served as an awkward backdrop for the group. The playful nature of their various juggling tricks seemed to clash with the serious tenor of the songs being sung.
The comedic portion of the night opened with a performance by alumnus Josh Lawson, graduate of 2012, who regaled the audience with the adventures—or, better yet—misadventures of post-graduation unemployment. The narrative nature of his set made for an enjoyable performance. One joke that received laughs from the crowd parodied Mitt Romney’s recent campaign gaffe. Rating his level of unemployment, Lawson joked, “On a scale of 1-10, I’m a hard 47 percent.”
Following Lawson, comedienne Annie Blaine, a senior sociology and psychology double major, held her own as the program’s only female participant. She brought a quirky, fun energy to the stage, which made her easy to watch.
In a female-dominated school, her set really spoke to her demographic, but that is not to say the gentlemen were left out. Her jokes provided insight into the difficulties of seldom-addressed women’s bathroom etiquette and the dynamics of female friend groups.
Leah Embrey, a senior studio art major, found the set extremely relatable. Putting it simply, she said, “Everything was funny because it’s true.”
This truthfulness took a slightly different turn when the next act, Isaac Whalen, took the stage. Whalen assumed a different style than the others, choosing to string together a set of autonomous one-liners. Fields described it best with this post-performance comment, “Offensive, but consistent.”
Mike Strange took the stage next and assumed the role of professor. Wearing a dress shirt, tie and sweater, he certainly looked the part to educate his audience on the state of America. He presented a satiric slideshow replete with exaggerated charts and graphs. The country’s problem, according to Strange, is the prevalence of useless people, which he referred to as slugs.
His set ended with a rousing speech encouraging audience members to be “anti-slug” and suggested that they “spread the salt.” The grandstanding wasn’t just words, as the comedian whipped out a saltshaker as a testament to his statement.
Russel Michelson, a junior communications major, took the stage next. He garnered laughs with his jokes about the limits of Twitter and the panic that ensues with a WebMD self-diagnosis. His most successful joke, which received rousing laughter, posited that black women fill in the spaces in MadLibs with “Mmmhmm.”
The night’s final act, Kyle Phalen, encapsulated all previous acts. While some jokes were a little raunchy and potentially offensive to some, he tempered them with self-deprecating comments. At one point, he painted himself as a “tragically depressed clown.”
Sarah Kaplan, senior business administration major said, “They all did fantastic. They all had their unique style- a little bit of everything for everyone.”
All of the show’s comedians should be applauded for their efforts. The art of comedy is not an easy one, but participants and spectators alike can unite under their support of the cause. The night proved to be a success as the show raised over $400 for the Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization, and that’s one thing that should not be laughed at.


  1. hardc0r3gam3r

    I have a couple bones to pick with this article.

    To begin, it’s Russell, not Russel, Symfonics is spelled wrong, and Mike Strange’s name is actually Mike Stange. Mike’s act was not a satire of the current state of America, where useless people are referred to as slugs. I haven’t met a single person who interpreted the act this way and I don’t think the author should have made this strange assumption.

    I felt like the overall tone of the article was a little too critical. If this was in Viewpoints, I would understand, but I don’t think it was appropriate for the Style section.