NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Interactive comedy hour offers a night of laughts

On Wednesday evening March 3rd, NECC Student Life Activities presented an online interactive comedy hour to have fun and loosen up life during COVID times, hosted by professional stand-up comedian and adjunct professor David Rattigan.

The crowd warmed up “with a tiny bit of education” as Rattigan put it, with a short six-slide PowerPoint as an introduction, outlining the pitfalls the comedian experienced throughout the quarantine and how he survived due to “the benefits of laughter.”

Nothing was off limits, including being a father of a 15 year old who was perpetually in a bad mood, to looking for comorbidities to get the vaccine, and performing at a winter comedy festival to a crowd of only ten in a venue  for 250, with the punchline being that most of the attendees were staff members.

“Life is terrible – especially since 2020 started,” stated Rattigan. “We are stuck with the options to either laugh or cry, ultimately we can improve our lives with laughter.”

The final slide summed up what the purpose of this evening was intended by displaying a quote “Humor can band teams, boost your career and make even the most boring and stressful jobs bearable,” written by Rachel Feintzeig of The Wall Street Journal of Feb 21 2021.

Feintzeig’s quote, provided by Rattigan, was the segue into the remaining 45 minutes of the program which was reserved for audience participation.

The participants included approximately 17 people comprising both students and faculty of NECC. As the virtual online host, Rattigan led the attendees, in an unmuted setting, in five different exercises putting them in the spotlight and promoting interactions that elicited laughter.

These activities were initiated, bringing each audience member center stage, introducing themselves followed by making a crazy noise. This ice breaker set the tone for further comedic improv that included “one upping” each other, filling in the blanks of famous quotes, sharing jokes and telling funny stories as well as working in small groups, via chat rooms, creating parodies of celebrities as Presidents along with slogans to go with their campaign.

“Just have fun,” encouraged Rattigan.

During the one hour event, smiles were observed on everyone’s faces, along with laughs and cheering each other on.

“I didn’t realize how long it has been since I’ve had a good laugh”, stated NECC Criminal Justice major Emma Atwood.

Towards the end of the hour Rattigan summed up the experience,“A lot of the comedy comes from people breaking out of their comfort zones and doing something fun and creative.”

At NECC, Rattigan, an adjunct professor who teaches a variety of communication courses, has been making students laugh while helping them learn.

He is also an accomplished professional stand-up comedian who has personally appeared and played various comedy venues all over the Northeast. Dictated by COVID-19, his venues had to take on a new format.

“I did some outdoor shows during the pandemic, and have done a few indoor shows to very small, socially distant crowds. It was a very different dynamic, but all the comics I’ve talked to were happy to just get out and perform.” said Rattigan during an interview.

Rattigan has previously done a few online comedy shows, and developed the night’s program based on a speaking presentation on the benefits of laughter.

“I’ve prepared by teaching virtual on-line classes which, as students know, can be tragic or comic depending on your point of view.”

He further added that, “I’m told that I’m very dry. I write about things that frustrate me, or I find ironic, or just seem funny to me. I like many styles, but mostly things that surprise me.”

This event was initiated by Student Life Activities coordinators Stepahnie Haskell and Maria Hernandez. “Maria and I were asked by the Dean to create new virtual events. Some students mentioned Rattigan’s comedic gifts and seeing his background in stand-up comedy, he was recruited to helm the event.” revealed Haskell. She went on to say, “Less people signed up last fall, but more people registered to attend this year, yet overall attendance was similar in the fall.”

When asked if the event was a success, Haskell’s reply was, “If you have more than one person laughing, we had 17, then consider that a success!”