The beer is flowing in Ryan’s Pub, the crowd is spilling out the doors and those tside are peering in through the picture windows. For the moment, though, Briana Hansen is all alone, standing on the pub’s stage, solitary in the spotlight, trying to make the crowd laugh. Holding the microphone in her hand, she blanks out, then the words she’s practiced so many times start spilling out: stories about playing practical jokes on her roommate by pretending a stuffed dead cat is her pet—and asking her to feed it. “Freakin’ out!” Another about working the checkout line at a health food store, you know, “the one where people who are better than you shop.”
The crowd roars and she’s feeling on top of the world.
Hansen is a contestant in Xavier’s Last Muskie Standing comedy contest—a spin-off of the short-lived reality television show “Last Comic Standing.” Yet something surprises Hansen: She doesn’t remember a thing about her performance. “I just zoned out,” she says. Funny thing is, the crowd remembers, and after the other 19 students perform, she’s declared the winner.
Hansen is a junior honors student who came to Xavier to study politics, history and English. Not comedy. But she was knocked off her feet by the numerous outlets on campus for comedic roles—main stage theater productions, short-form improvisational groups, sketch comedy venues where students write and perform their own pieces. Best of all, she found an administrative environment that not only supports but encourages students to go out and be creative.
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