CU Comedy gears up for in-person show

By Carolina Garibay

Throughout the pandemic, people everywhere have been trying to find an escape from the loneliness that inevitably comes with self-isolation and quarantine.

Luckily, more and more people are being vaccinated and restaurants, coffee shops and other stores are opening up, so there are more ways for people to see each other and enjoy some of their favorite pre-pandemic spots.

The same is true for the comedy scene in Champaign-Urbana. On April 17, Jesse Tuttle of CU Comedy is hosting a stand-up comedy show at Baldarotta’s inside Lincoln Square in Urbana. Tuttle said that comedy is a way for people to escape some of the quarantine blues that a lot of people have been experiencing over the past year.

“People seem to be kind of clamoring for it more because it’s just been away for so long,” Tuttle said. “There haven’t been any shows or any possible way of live entertainment.”

Tuttle first started in comedy about 12 years ago and first got involved with comedy in Champaign around 2010, when there wasn’t much going on in Champaign comedy-wise. Tuttle said there’s a market for comedy in Champaign and that he still thinks that CU Comedy could do more.

“Even after all these years we’ve been doing it, it’s (about) trying to find more outreach and even more of the market,” Tuttle said. “I don’t even think we’ve hit our overall potential that we can in terms of how big the shows could be in the area.”

Tuttle has been running shows in CU and surrounding areas for about 10 years, but this past year has been particularly difficult show-wise since they haven’t been able to host shows the way they used to before the pandemic.

One of the main reasons that Tuttle is able to host an in-person show is because Baldarotta’s allows for COVID-19 regulations. Plus, Tuttle said CU Comedy has hosted shows there before.

“The few shows we’ve had have worked really great there,” Tuttle said. “This one’s gonna be a little bit different because this time we’re there having to deal with restrictions, but we’re still trying to do something.”

Tuttle himself will be performing at the show on Saturday, as well as Jesse Tuttle, Zach Boblitt, Justin Tuttle, Vignesh Suresh and Al Nimpson.

Nimpson has performed in Champaign multiple times, and he said that the comedy scene is especially great because it allows him to expand his set of jokes.

“You get a lot of college kids, so I can do my jokes about Kanye West and they’ll actually know who I’m talking about,” Nimpson said. 

Though Nimpson has performed several times, he said that he wasn’t always the best at comedy. Nimpson said that when he first started out, he was only on stage for about 30 seconds and didn’t even finish the joke.

Even though this wasn’t the best experience, Nimpson still learned from it and realized that he loved doing comedy shows.

“My thought when I left the stage was, ‘I could definitely do that again,’” Nimpson said. He said that this experience drove him to be better at the next performance, which is a mindset that he continues to have at every performance, including the one this Saturday.

Nimpson said that the audience on Saturday can expect a lot of “weird, observational jokes” from him and guarantees that someone in the show will make you laugh.

“I think people are really just looking to laugh right now,” Nimpson said. “It’s been a tough year all around, and any experience you can get to not think about that for like an hour and a half, I think people are looking for that.”

For more information about CU Comedy and upcoming shows, visit cucomedy.com.