By Elina Shapiro Staff Reporter
At his first UMF performance last Wednesday, comedian Jeff Scheen had students laughing within moments as he started describing Maine.
“Are there more bears than people here?” Scheen asked the audience that filled the Landing. “I grew up in the woods. I hate the woods. I came here, and I was like, ‘Oh God, I’m back home again.’” Although Scheen now lives in Brooklyn, New York, he grew up north of Detroit in an area similar to Farmington.
Scheen described his comedy style as different from other comedians. “I just tell personal stories that are often weird, and sometimes a little dark…You don’t have to worry about people stealing your stuff,” said Scheen in a phone interview. “If it’s your story.”
Throughout his performance, Scheen talked about being hit by a car as he ran to catch a bus, accidentally driving to Canada, and what it’s like to live with a big mouth, but a small throat.
Scheen didn’t always talk about his personal life, and his comedy wasn’t always dark. He started with a variety of styles and developed a routine that was right for him. “When I first started, I talked about soup and mundane things, and then I realized I don’t care about soup,” said Scheen over the phone.
Scheen explained that many comedians have been bullied and that comedy can be a coping mechanism. “If something bad happens, I always have the thought, ‘this sucks, but I could turn this bad thing into a bit and turn it into a positive thing.’ It makes it easier,” said Scheen. “Humor comes from self-defense. I’ll go with the funny route ‘cause I am good at it.”
Scheen said that he did terribly during his first open mic night ten years ago, but he enjoyed doing comedy so he has been performing ever since that night. He described how every mistake is a learning experience. “You bomb, you do really good, and then you bomb again,” Scheen said. “You have to grow as a person and gain confidence to be relaxed and comfortable on stage.”
Association for Campus Entertainment (ACE) is the UMF all inclusive club that asked Scheen to come to campus. Each year, members of the club attend NACA, the National Association for Campus Activities.
“It’s basically a giant event where you go and see people perform,” said Paige Hemond, a sophomore and a member of ACE. “Whether it’s a magic show, whether it’s comedians, whether it’s magicians, and if they’re available, you can book them.” Scheen was booked at last year’s NACA event.
Hemond said that it takes a lot of work to host a performer, even beyond figuring out who to book. “We need to have the equipment and everything. We have to make sure we have the microphone, and everything that the performer needs in order to perform,” Hemond said.
Hemond said that everyone is welcome to all events that ACE puts on. “Events are available; anyone can go to them; they’re free; you don’t have to pay anything; we take care of all that,” said Hemond. “We want everyone to be able to have opportunities to see what they want to see, so just communicating with us and telling us what they want to see.”
ACE puts up posters about upcoming events in the Olsen Student Center hallway, as well as signs on their door in the Student Center. Students can also find out about future events on their Facebook Page, https://www.facebook.com/ace.umf/.