Jolly Comedy Hour brings stand-up comedy to campus


Aura Rossy, Staff Reporter

Jolly Comedy Hour, held on Saturday, Oct. 27, marked the first stand-up comedy event at the Jolly Scholar. The event featured headliner Vishnu Akella, Brett Thomas and Marcello Hernandez.

Thomas, the recipient of 2018 Cleveland Comedy Awards for “Best Joke Short-form” and “Rookie of the Year,” performs regularly in the Northeast Ohio area. Hernandez is a fourth-year student at John Carroll University who has established a comedy show at his institution. Akella, a fourth-year Case Western Reserve University student, seeks to do the same here at CWRU by establishing regular shows where he will perform alongside special guests.

Stand-up comedy is new for the entertainment scene at CWRU and offers a unique opportunity for students to explore their talents. Akella said stand-up comedy differs from other forms of creative expression due to its immediacy. The audience offers immediate feedback, with laughter or jeers, right when the comedian tells a joke.

“You say something and then you’re going to find out if it’s good or bad right then and there,” said Akella. “Writing for screenwriting and sketches and stuff you don’t find out until after [the performance], but here it’s right away.”

After Akella’s introduction, Hernandez took the stage and brought up the racial issues felt by many American citizens. Hernandez, whose parents hail from Cuba and the Dominican Republic, has felt the effects of stereotyping and racism, particularly with Latino cultures. His lines poked fun at the tendency for people to lump Latino cultures into one general group and make assumptions about traditions and culinary preferences.

Similarly, Akella’s parents immigrated to the United States from India. Akella discussed being raised by immigrant parents who grew up in a much different environment than he did, bringing up his dad’s claim of having built his life from the ground up with only $10 in his pocket. Akella comedically pointed out how the situation his dad grew up in is starkly different from his situation growing up in the US.

“I went to India with $10 in my pocket, and I almost bought India,” said Akella.

Akella’s venture into comedy began years ago when he chose to combine his enjoyment of comedy with his writing skills. He started by performing at open-mic nights before performing at progressively bigger venues. Although Cleveland serves Akella well for performance opportunities, particularly in Lakewood and Coventry, lately he has been flying out to New York to perform at more shows and expand his network.

“Out of all the major cities, Cleveland’s pretty good. The top [cities] are New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and then there’s other mid-size cities, and Cleveland’s got a really good comedy scene,” said Akella.

Look out for more student-hosted comedy nights at the Jolly Scholar in the future.