Before she auditioned for Two Drink Minimum, Kenyon’s only stand-up comedy group, Delaney Barker ’20 had never considered doing comedy. Her mother was surprised when she tried out, Barker said, and was blown away when she got in.
Last Friday in Peirce Pub, at the group’s first show of the semester, Barker performed her first set with authority and apparent ease. This was a common denominator among the 11 performers; their jokes, which ranged in topic from stigmas against bad tipping to mishaps with the tooth fairy, were concise and remarkably polished.
Ethan Fuirst ’17, who leads the group with Adama Berndt ’17, said members have worked harder in the past two years to incorporate constructive criticism into their sets.
“We are writing stand-up, and we are rewriting stand-up, reworking the sentences and reworking the syllables,” Fuirst said.
Two Drink members spend all semester revising the five minutes of stand-up they perform onstage. Professional comedy can often seem effortless, but here, the performers’ hard work showed. But their rehearsed deliveries at times interfered with stand-up’s most basic pretense: the illusion that it is a conversation between the comedian and the audience.
Even so, these comedians had a knack for subverting expectations. Fuirst’s favorite joke of the entire show was Barker’s riff on her biracial identity.
“If you want to know what a girl’s gonna look like in 20 years, look at their mother,” Barker said. “So, eventually, I will be white.”
Another clever moment of surprise, when trips through familiar territory took sudden turns, came in Kyra Baldwin’s ’17 joke about how her parents used animals to acclimate her to the idea of death. “It was really good my two Betta fish died before my grandpa,” she said. “And really good my grandpa died before Philip Seymour Hoffman.”
Or this bit from Jenna Rochelle ’18: “Do you guys like impersonations? Do you want me to do one? Uh, no.”
She paused, then continued, “That was Rosa Parks.”
Throughout the show, the large audience was lively and responsive, probably in part because the Pub serves alcoholic drinks. But Fuirst also thinks the diversity of the group itself attracted people to the show.
“I think it helps with attendance that the members of Two Drink come from different social circles on campus,” he said.
“We should advertise ourselves as the most diverse group on campus because we have ‘a football player, two blacks, some Jews, two redheads and at least three chicks,’” Rochelle joked in an email to the Collegian.
In this respect, Two Drink Minimum has come a long way since Rochelle joined the group in the fall of 2014. Back then, she was Two Drink’s only female member. Now, the group’s gender balance is mostly equal, and the members bring a diverse range of perspectives to the stage.
“I think it does do a large part to diversify the jokes that we write,” Rochelle wrote, “because there’s a lot of different opinions and we’re not afraid to disagree with each other.”