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February 05, 2004 - Image 19

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-02-05

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10B -- The Michigan Daily - Weekend Maguine - Thursday, February 5, 2004

The Michigan Daily - Weekend Magazine

In da club:
Finding the2
laughs in A
By Jiwon Lee
Daily Arts Writer
Going to a stand-up comedy performance in Ann Arbor is
definitely a uique experience. There's something about the dark
(and usually somewhat smoky) room with its intimate proximity to
the lit stage that adds to the anticipation of a live performance
wholly designed to make you laugh.

'Dances' celebrates
fusion of cultures

I became hooked on stand-up com-
edy my freshman year after watching
a show at the Ann Arbor Comedy
Showcase. I have transitioned from
audience member to being onstage,
but the special chemistry is still com-
pletely unique and different every
single time. Sitcoms and even watch-
ing stand-up on television simply do
not compare to the live performance.
There is a slightly risky element
about going to see a stand-up come-
dian perform. Chances are, unless
you've already seen them on Comedy
Central or the like, you are trusting a
comic to be funny. I was reluctant to
take a chance on a name I'd never
heard of before my first few times.
Each time, I walked out of the room
still laughing at a joke, wanting to
repeat the material to someone. I still
have yet to be disappointed, after
dozens of shows. All of this for less
than the price of a student movie
Roger Feeney, owner of the

Comedy Showcase, says, "My goal is
to mix it up so there's variety every
week. If you don't like it one week,
then chances are it'll be a different
type of comedy the week after."
The Club has seen many big names
through the years, such as Tim Allen,
Drew Carey, Ellen DeGeneres, Louis
Black and Norm MacDonald. This is
no accident, as Ann Arbor is known
to comics as a great place for come-
"The industry says the coasts have
the highest caliber of comedy while
the Midwest doesn't, but I think Ann
Arbor comics compete with the best.
It's a very smart comedy here," says
LSA senior John O'Donnell, a sea-
soned comic.
Brent Sullivan, an accomplished
stand-up comedian and LSA sopho-
more, said, "Ann Arbor, because of
the University, is incredibly unique.
When someone can go on stage and
tell a good refreshing joke that does-
n't involve bedroom or bathroom

Stand up comics have numerous venues to choose from Ann Arbor's booming
comedy scene.



/1 tslZeel
1/2 Sandwich & Soup Combo

humor, and still get a good response,
that's amazing. The audience is very
unique in that sense."
Sullivan also attributes Ann
Arbor's liberal qualities as contribut-
ing to great comedy, saying, "I think
comedy is a very liberal thing. If you
look at big names and their acts, such
as Dennis Miller or Jon Stewart,
there's a lot of free thinking. Liberal
people like to debunk things and look
at them differently, which is what
comics do naturally."
O'Donnell described student life
as a key reason for Ann Arbor's
healthy stand-up scene, saying, "The
culture in Ann Arbor is great. . .
there's a lot of cool people just hang-
ing out, open to dialogue and discus-
A night of comedy, as opposed to
the usual dinner-and-a-movie, is
relaxing and provoking at the same
Sullivan says, "The best comics
are the smartest. Comedy has to be
somewhat stimulating and introspec-
tive." You could argue the same is
true for a movie or television, but the
live aspect is a huge part of why
stand up comedy is so exciting.
"It's real interaction," said LSA
senior Elizabeth Rourke after watch-
ing a performance at the Heidelberg.
When asked why he preferred
watching stand up comedy to other
entertainment, LSA and Music soph-
omore John Hartman answered, "I
wanted to do something that wasn't
as common."
"Ann Arbor is a great town for
comedy because the audience is
intelligent, sophisticated and will
honestly listen to what you have to
say," Sullivan says.
Both Sullivan and O'Donnell are
aware of the competitive and cut-
throat nature of the stand-up busi-
ness. "Comedy is one of those jobs
that is not guaranteed at all. You
could be huge tomorrow and still
have no one want to see you in three
years," said Sullivan. He added, "It
took me two years to get my first
paying gig. You need friends and con-
nections for jobs, and I relied on peo-
ple liking my jokes." When asked
why he was still drawn to such a
volatile career, Sullivan said,
"Comedy is the kind of thing where

By Archana Ravi
Daily Arts Writer
As part of a series of events cele-
brating the culture that evolved in
St. Petersburg, Russia between 1703
and the present, the University
Dance Company will exhibit
"Dances for St. Petersburg" this
week. The event, titled "Celebrating
St. Petersburg" commemorates the
300th anniversary of a city that has
had an enormous impact on
American culture, especially
through dance and music.
The production will feature guest
artist Alonzo King, founder of San
Francisco's LINES Ballet and for-
mer choreographer for the Joffrey
Ballet, Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre
of Harlem, and the Frankfurt Ballet.
The Los Angeles Times distinguish-
es his work as "the most sophisticat-
ed modernism in classical dance."
King choreographs Shostakovich's
String Quartet No. 15 in B flat
minor Op. 144 to be performed by
the UM Rosseels String Quartet.
The San Francisco Chronicle
describes this particular piece as
"one of the San Francisco dance-
maker's most affecting works...mir-
ror(ing) the tragedy and hope of
Shostakovich's music." The dance
includes a series of small ensembles
and solo performances.
Peter Sparling contributes chore-
ography in his work, "The Second
Space," which takes its title from a
poem by Czeslaw Milosz and is set
to "Symphonies of Wind
Instruments" by Igor Stravinsky.
The piece corresponds to St.
Petersburg's long ascent to utopian
order, and functions beyond religion
and politics. The work's imagery is
derived and influenced by the
Suprematist vision of avant-garde
painter Kasimar Malevich.
Bill De Young also displays his
work set to the music of composer
Edison Denisov. Denisov's work,
titled "Sonata for Alto Sax and
Piano Op. 37" portrays elements of
both American Jazz and Russian
musicals from the 1960's.
Faculty member Gay Delanghe
will examine the influence of the
1904 trip to St. Petersburg by
American modern dance pioneer
Isadora Duncan on the Russian
Ballet choreographer Michel
Fokine. Her piece, entitled "La
Duncan and Fokine" presents a
comical and insightful look at both
Ruth Leney-Midkiff will use the
work of painter Mikhail Larionov to
explore St. Petersburg's reputation
as the "Venice of the North." Her
piece, entitled "Point of No Return"
is largely influenced by theories of
light, industrialization and the cele-
bration of speed, much like the
Rayonist Painting Movement in
Russia circa 1914. This piece is set
to Prokofiev's "Etude Op. 2" and
Sonata #7 in B-flat major" played


by Ming-Hsiu Yen, School of Music
piano performance major and
Concerto Competition winner.
At large, the festival is a celebra-
tion and tribute to the great
Marinsky alum, George Balanchine.
The festival examines various ele-
ments of Balanchine's life and art.
Balanchine is known for the way in
which he transformed American
popular dance and culture by fusing
it with St. Petersburg's cultural her-
itage and dance training.
Balanchine's contributions out-
side of ballet are multitudinous and
significant. He made several contri-
butions to American pop culture
through American film and
Broadway. He also worked exten-
sively with great black dancers such
as Harold and Fayard Nicholas and
Katherine Dunham. Although step-
ping outside of his heritage when
pursuing these endeavors, he never
abandoned his training in St.
Dances for St. Petersburg is par-
tially supported by a grant from the
National College Choreography
Initiative Foundation, a leadership
initiative of the National
Endowment for the Arts with addi-
tional support by the Dana
Foundation. It is administered by
Dance USA, the national service
organization for professional dance.



"Dances from St. Petersburg" celebrates the city's artistic influence on American

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