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Saturday, September 19

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Event Tue Sep 28 2010

Funny Business

It was all about the laughs for Columbia College Chicago last weekend as the school celebrated its annual "Alumni Weekend." The festivities, which consisted of various panels, workshops and other activities, were an opportunity to network and re-connect with alumni from a variety of fields.

For the "Laugh Track" part of the weekend, some of the school's most notable alumni from the entertainment industry convened for "The Business of Being Funny," a panel discussion where they shared memories of their time as students at Columbia and also discussed how they parlayed their comedic talent into a business.

Held at the college's Getz Theater, the panel, made up of funny folks from the world of stand-up and improvisational comedy, writing, acting and directing, included author Karyn Bosnak, writer/director Steve Pink (Hot Tub Time Machine), comedienne Erica Watson, film editor Peter Teschner, writer/director Chris McKay (Robot Chicken) and actor/comedian Andy Richter ("Late Night With Conan O'Brien").

Moderated by alum Brian Shaw, the panel members discussed a variety of topics including how their careers began, using the concepts of "birthing" or "conception" as metaphors. For Richter, his path to show business was "conceived" from "being a hard worker with a sh**** attitude." The actor also credited Columbia for helping him realize his passion. "Columbia was a step in me feeling like you can do this for a living," he said.

Another topic was how to draw comedic inspiration for material. According to Watson, "When you start doing stand-up, you first start off by doing topical things, but once you start really digging deep into your life, that's when you realize stuff is really funny." The comedienne added, "Pulling comedy from places where most people wouldn't is what helps me." Bosnak agreed, but with a slightly different approach. "Every time I screw up, I get more ideas!" she admitted.

Political correctness, an issue that nagged comedians recently, was also a hot topic during the discussion. For Teschner, irreverence simply comes with the territory. "If you don't offend some people, your comedy probably isn't very good."

Finally, the panelists rounded out the discussion by acknowledging Columbia's impact on their careers. For Richter, it was great to be among a "group of like-minded people"; however, Watson seemingly expressed the entire panel's sentiments: "Columbia, to me, solidified the fact you can follow your passion and do what you want for a living--and make money doing it."

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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