A slate of performers, compliments The Western Comedy Club, graced Concrete Beach for the organization's Stand-Up Special, Sept. 6, 2018.  Michael Conley / GAZETTE

The promise of an entertaining student-run show includes a canopy of string lights, purple stage lights glowing in the background and movie theatre bags of hot, buttery popcorn at the ready. 

The Western Comedy Club rounded out the first full day of classes for the 2018-19 school year with their opening stand-up show of the season at Concrete Beach on Thursday night, exclusively for first-year students. 

It was an exciting evening for the six performers that carried the show through a series of light, personal and relatable bits. It was also their chance to get back on stage and shake off the lingering inactivity of the last four months. Sophs and their frosh found seating among the multi-coloured bean bags on the lawn as the energy built.

The first acts of the evening included Hershawn Arora, Scott Aker and Isabella Vesely. Their seamless transitions and timely deliveries spoke to their level of comfortable experience on stage, but their individual styles felt experimental and not quite solidified. Though their sets had entertaining lines, they didn't follow a particular theme or style which left the audience unengaged and lost at times.

The more refined Jodie Roach and Callie Chang-Powless followed. They used professional comedic techniques like evolving a single idea to tie the entire act together. They also had stronger presences on stage than the other performers. Roach’s onstage confidence stood out, even when she admitted to having been compared to Mark Ruffalo after a first kiss — by a guy she proceeded to date for two years. She returned to the bit on Mark Ruffalo at the end of her set, when she contemplated dropping out of school to "become him."

As co-president of the club and with four years of heavy experience and the influence of her successful older sister — another past president of the WCC — Roach's level of expertise wasn’t surprising. 

“Stand-up comedy is just a room full of people whose goals are to make other people happy,” Roach says when asked about her interest in comedy. “That’s the whole point: just to make people happy and make their day feel a little better, so why wouldn’t you want to be in that room?”

Roach says that allowing herself to be vulnerable in front of strangers has been the biggest challenge she’s overcome during her time in the club, but it has also been the most rewarding takeaway.

The show itself was short but sweet at only 50 minutes, incorporating plays on university life, the truth about “adulting” and how to finally “leave the nest.” Each performer left room for their own experiences and personalities to shine through, which made the show fresh and diverse. You might not relate to Aker’s bit on the confusing mall signs that prohibit rollerblades but permit marbles, but you might connect to Arora’s daily dilemma of explaining to others that although there are some big clocks around town, he’s not going to school in England.

Despite a few lines that didn’t quite land and the expected nerves of an opening night, the WCC put on a thoroughly entertaining show that encouraged genuine laughs and a reprieve from the craziness of O-Week. After all, stand-up is only one example of the many intimidating yet rewarding things first-years can expect to encounter during their time at Western University. Fittingly, Roach’s mantra for doing stand-up can be chanted for the challenges of everyday life:

“Don’t be scared, just give it a try. Don’t be afraid to fail in front of us because we do it every day.”