The Collegian
Monday, December 04, 2023

Where is everybody?

Considered by the New York Times to be "a comedy empire," Second City is one of America's leading sketch-comedy and improvisational groups to date.

Some notable alumni of Second City include the ever-popular leading lady of the hit sitcom Glee, Jane Lynch, our favorite 40-year-old virgin, Steve Carell, and Colbert Report's Stephen Colbert. Other alumni include a large number of past and present cast members of Saturday Night Live such as funny lady Amy Poehler and comedic genius and my personal idol Tina Fey.

So I'm sure you can imagine how ecstatic I was to find out that Second City was coming to perform at the University of Richmond.

As I rushed to the performance last Friday night, I was worried because I was running a bit late and figured I'd have a hell of a time finding a seat. Boy, was I wrong. I literally could have been blindfolded and picked a seat at random and the probability of me sitting on someone's lap was smaller than Marcel the Shell.

The place was half-empty.

Not only did I feel badly for the performers that night - considering they're used to selling out every night back in Chicago - but I was also embarrassed by the fact that this isn't the first time I've seen a really interesting University of Richmond event under-attended and unappreciated.

Granted, that night in particular had a lot going on - the basketball game and step competition - but I kept having flashbacks to other Richmond events where attendance was dismal.

I remember going to stand up comedian Kyle Grooms' performance my sophomore year and wanting to leave immediately. Not because he wasn't funny, on the contrary he was hilarious, but since there were so few people there and since he is a regular on Comedy Central standup shows that showcase to thousands of people in one crowd (not to mention the thousands that watch it at home), I just felt like it was a huge slap in his face.

Even the Sam Adams concert this year was a disgrace. I know he's not exactly Jay-Z and a lot of people think he's a big douchebag, but his songs are pretty catchy and he seems to be a pretty up-and-coming artist.

So I was once again disappointed when I showed up to the concert, which I might add was held in the Robins Center in anticipation of a huge crowd, and there were only about 100 people there.

One hundred seemingly intoxicated underclassmen that, by the looks of it, must not have been able to find an apartment to awkwardly walk into uninvited, so instead they decided to go crash the Sam Adams concert and flick him off for a half-hour instead. They really showed him.

I'm just curious as to why so many of the events that the members of Campus Activities Board plan for students are so grossly under-attended? It couldn't possibly be because people aren't interested because I hear people talking about the events all the time.

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And I'm not the only one who is puzzled by the lack of student attendance at the events.

Amy Newsock, president of CAB, and Colby Sheffer, vice president of publicity in CAB, have exhausted their time, energy, resources and ideas trying to figure out how to get more people to come to events.

"Our events just aren't a priority on campus anymore," Sheffer said. "We try and reach out to people who don't necessarily want to go out and drink, to internationals who want to experience as much as they can while they're here, and to other people on campus who are looking for new things to see and do," she said.

Getting the word out is difficult when CAB has to compete with Greek-affiliated events. It's virtually impossible, Sheffer said.

CAB was initially not even going to charge students for entry to events, but after lack of attendance they had to start charging again, Newsock said.

"We book these things six months in advance so it's hard not to conflict with other smaller events that aren't planned as far ahead of time. We try negotiating with other groups for dates. It's just extremely frustrating," she said.

"Chiddy Bang was the most successful event we've ever had," Sheffer said. "So we decided getting Hood Internet this semester, with a similar mash-up style, would be a good idea, but it bombed because they performed the first weekend the lodges were open so no one came," she said.

It's sad to think that if there had been a beer truck there many more people would have shown up, she said.

CAB events are over by 10:30; "I just don't understand," Newsock said. These events offer people the opportunity to diversify their social life, but few seem to take advantage of them, she said.

Personally, I think it's less about student apathy and more something along the lines of this scenario:

"Hey are you going to [insert event here]?"

"I don't know. Are you?"

"Maybe, but I heard that [insert apartment number here] is throwing down, too."

"Oh, word?"

And BAM, consider the event in question forgotten.

I sincerely hope that this article will spark some sort of interest in people to support CAB and the arts in general, but I also hope that this article reminds people that there are things to do on campus besides go to the lodges and apartments (and I can assure you, they're not going anywhere any time soon).

Here are some things to look forward to next semester that CAB is graciously planning for all of us: An event called Jackapalooza will take place toward the end of the year.

It's a festival-esque event in which there will be three main acts. Act one will be student performances, act two will consist of performances by local bands from Richmond, and act three will most likely be a performance by a mash-up artist similar to Chiddy Bang.

Comedian Kristen Schaal from Flight of the Conchords will also be performing next semester.

Those are just two of the many events CAB is planning for next semester. I don't know about you, but I'd rather go to a mini-music festival than watch Kristy Burkhardt grind with herself at Sig Chi.

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