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Texas State Comedy Association develops new comedians one joke at a time

Matthew+Buchanan+practices+stand-up+comedy%2C+Wednesday%2C+Sept.+29%2C+2021%2C+at+Derrick+Hall.

Matthew Buchanan practices stand-up comedy, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021, at Derrick Hall.

When Matthew Buchanan stepped foot into the LBJ Student Center his freshman year to watch his first Comedy Association showcase, he was blown away by the number of people in attendance.
“I went and it was just like life-changing,” Buchanan, a theater senior said. “I stepped in, and it was like almost a full audience. To me, coming from high school, that was insane to see a club get this many people at a show.”
Now, as a member of the club, Buchanan credits the Comedy Association for its hand in helping him discover his passion for comedy.
“I joined my sophomore year because I wanted to experience that,” Buchanan said. “And then from there I’ve, you know, slowly [fallen] more and more in love with it. Until the point where I am today where I want to do that as my career.”
The Texas State Comedy Association was founded by Garrett Buss in 2016 with the intent for students to collaborate on various forms of comedy. Today, the Comedy Association continues to give new and experienced comedians a platform to hone their craft, specializing in sketch, stand-up and improv.
Since its creation, the Comedy Association has performed an original musical, “Canadian Bacon,” produced an original Christmas album “A Very Merry Comedy Association Christmas” and performed monthly comedy showcases.
The sense of community within the Comedy Association is a reason comedians enjoy being part of the club and is something its members hope to develop as newer comedians join. The club accepts students of all majors and experience levels who are interested in performing comedy.
The Comedy Association holds several weekly meetings to give new comedians the opportunity to try out their material or learn new skills without having to perform in front of a large audience.
Alex Pittner, communication studies junior and the Comedy Association’s vice president, said his goal is to provide comedians and those interested in it a safe space to try new things.
“If you don’t feel safe, you’re not going to pitch the joke,” Pittner said. “And if you don’t pitch the joke, you’re not going to grow as a comedian. So, I’m really trying to create a safe space and give positive feedback.”
During the pandemic, 80% of the Comedy Association’s member base graduated which resulted in the current member base being primarily younger, inexperienced comedians.
“What I hope to see is people really come into their own and embrace who they are as comedians and people,” Pittner said. “Just because a lot of the people are freshman who never performed comedy before. My hope is that they look in the mirror and they’re like ‘I’m a comedian,’ and believe in themselves and their ability to perform.”
Sam Burzinski, a history freshman, recently joined the Comedy Association after being the captain of his high school’s improv team. Looking for a creative outlet in college, Burzinski stumbled across the Comedy Association at the student organization fair. He said the Comedy Association has allowed him to hone his ability to tell stories.
“I’ve always been a big storyteller in front of people,” Burzinski said. “I’m an Eagle Scout and when I was in Boy Scouts, I’d always, at the campfires, tell stories that kind of led to a certain punch line … I’m glad I was able to find somewhere to really put that energy toward.”
Comedy Association members often perform at local open mics to refine their material in smaller, intimate environments. Several comedians in the Comedy Association perform venues outside of San Marcos, often traveling to Austin to perform for its growing comedy scene.
Stand-up comedian Bryson Brown is originally from Austin and now lives in Houston. He has opened for DeRay Davis, Bruce Bruce and headlined his own tour, the “Jokin’ and Smokin’ Tour.”
“The scene is thriving,” Brown said. “I know it’s a lot of new rooms out here. A lot of comics moved out from east, from west and Midwest. So, it’s definitely a theme.”
Last month, Austin hosted the Moontower Comedy Festival from Sept. 22-25. The festival included comedians from all over the country performing at different venues across the city. Several Comedy Association members like Buchanan were in attendance to see their favorite comedians perform live.
Nick Saverino, an Austin stand-up comedian, has been performing stand-up in Austin since 2014. His advice for young people, like members in the Comedy Association, who may be hesitant to get on stage for the first time is to take their time.
“Do it when you’re ready to do it,” Saverino said. “There’s no point in rushing yourself … You can start at 30 if you want. It doesn’t matter.”
Stand-up comedian Brad Williams, who sold out the Stateside Theatre at the Moontower Comedy Festival and whose comedy is featured on Netflix’s “The Degenerates,” also had advice for young comedians who are looking to pursue a career in comedy.
“I did my first open mic and I’m like ‘so when do I get paid?'” Williams said. “That’s the one thing I tell people when they say ‘hey, I’m thinking about doing comedy, should I do it?’ Well, if you’re okay being poor between at least two years and the most the rest of your life. Then yes, you can be a comedian.”
Although having a career in comedy can be challenging, Williams encouraged those who are passionate about comedy to do it as much as possible to get better.
“There’s no cheat sheet,” Williams said. “It’s trying to get as much stage time as you can, whether that be at open mics or other booked shows. It’s just getting a microphone and getting on stage and being able to talk. Cause, that’s the only way to get better at this.”
The Comedy Association will have its first in-person comedy showcase of the semester at 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 29 at George’s in the LBJ Student Center. For more information on how to join the Comedy Association and upcoming showcases and meetings, follow @txstcomedy on Instagram and Twitter.

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  • Sam Burzinski practices stand-up comedy, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021, at Derrick Hall.

  • Sam Morril headlines a stand-up comedy show, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, at the Stateside Theatre.

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