It seems as though many of us have that one friend or family member who is constantly echoing the phrase, “You’re so funny. How have you not done stand-up yet,” or perhaps “Your music lessons are paying off. You should think about performing,” coupled with a giddy smile and a bottomless optimism in their eyes.
On what anyone would interpret as a typical Wednesday evening, UW-Whitewater students showcased their unique talents and storytelling skills during Open Mic Night in the Down Under, approaching the stage like a moth to the flame, eager to put on the best show possible. Ranging from foot-tapping guitar sets to big-laugh comedy acts, the evening provided a quaint and relaxing atmosphere for everyone in attendance.
University Center Entertainment Assistant Marissa Porn highlighted what she believes makes this event particularly special for audience members and performers alike.
“This event is different due to the fact that it is students showing off their own talents which makes it a homegrown event for us,” Porn said. “We love to get student involvement in our events and with some of the performers we bring in it is more of students just watching for entertainment which is great. This, however, gets the students to perform and participate first hand.”
Elaborating on the show, Porn also gave her input on how first-time performers have truly embraced their craft as a result of participating in past open mic nights.
“There are a lot of first time performers who have participated for open mic,” Porn said. “It is a safe zone where we love to interact with all students so people should be able to feel free to show off their talent and maybe start with something short. We offer up to 15 minutes of performance time, but they don’t have to use the entire time allotted for them. Go up there with confidence and just be yourself. We are here to support you!”
One of the first acts of the night was UW-Whitewater sophomore Nick Sauer, who put his musical talent on display, entertaining the crowd with songs from the likes of Eric Clapton and The Beatles. Sauer, a self-diagnosed guitar addict, highlighted how the originality and uniqueness of different songs influences his passion to play.
“Being a huge rock fan all my life, the music is all based around the guitar, as every song has that distinctive riff or rhythm part,” Sauer said. “I always thought it would be amazing to be able to play in front of a group of people, and it was something on my bucket list. I just wanted to get up there and play some songs for not only myself but for other people to enjoy as well. It’s an awesome feeling.”
As the night progressed, audience members were also treated to the comedy stylings of UW-Whitewater junior Richard Petarius III, who used the night as a platform for his first stand-up bit in front of a live crowd. A fan of misdirection and spontaneousness, the young comic carried out an objective to keep the audience surprised and giggling as a result of his humorous rhetoric.
“I guess I always wanted to try stand-up. This was the first act I did and it was fun to get the ball rolling for my comedy. I’ve attended a lot of open mics in past years to get a sense of how it was done and became more excited by the idea of doing acts myself,” Petarius said.
Petarius, who still considers himself to be learning on the job, believes practice is the most crucial component of developing confidence as a comedian.
“Just start somewhere. Commit to a small thing like an open mic night and just work from there. It’ll help you get more comfortable, and it’ll give you feedback right away for you jokes. Just have fun with it.”
By the time the clock struck 9 p.m., students had laughed, grooved, swayed and applauded until their palms were sore. Friends and classmates hooted and hollered in support of the talented students who put on exceptional shows for those Down Under. Signs of more open mic nights to come seem extremely likely based on crowd reception of this talent-packed show.