If laughter is the best medicine, only one organization at East Carolina University has the perfect dose for those in need of a comical show.
Called the People’s Comedy Club (or PCC), the collection of ECU students and alumni have made a passionate hobby out of making the campus community laugh on a regular basis.
The organization’s sole purpose is to foster laughter amongst the student body and according to the People’s Comedy Club President Jake Weddle, this mission statement has translated into his eventual career goal.
“Stand up is not a thing many people see live, so with the People’s Comedy Club, students have an opportunity to witness comedy in person and even do it themselves, if they’re interested,” Weddle, a senior theatre arts and communication double major, said. “Basically, the PCC exposes students to an art form by making them see others perform the art in real time.”
Through the comedic styles of stand-up, sketch and improv, the members of the People’s Comedy Club express a range of versatility with every performance. Orginiating back in 2005 by East Carolina University alum and Greenville comedian Matt White, the club has since grown into a close-knit collective of students, serving as a “safe space” for aspiring comedians and a “practice ground” for veterans of the comedy scene.
“During meetings for the People’s Comedy Club, we’ve implemented a writer’s workshop where we exchange joke ideas and punch off of each others’ jokes,” Weddle said. “A lot of the time, people want to try stand up, but are scared to, so our meetings can serve as a safe space to have a joke heard in a non-threatening environment. An actual audience may not be so kind.”
A regular performer at ECU Student Activities Board’s Open Mic Nights and a finalist for ECU’s Pirates’ Got Talent last spring, Weddle is no stranger to the stages of Hendrix Theatre and Mendenhall’s Great Rooms. Jasmine Johnson, an ECU alum and 2018 Pirates’ Got Talent judge, said she was “mesmerized” when she got a first taste of the young comedian’s talent.
“His jokes had a dark element to them, but I couldn’t help but die of laughter. I was literally choking on my water from laughing so hard,” Johnson said. “I know I wasn’t the only one, but he had my vote for sure and he was one of my top performers of the night.”
Starting his comedic career at only 14 years old, Weddle was drawn to the comedy specials he would watch on the small screen as a kid and felt compelled enough to give his “funny chops” a try.
“I love the idea there’s something you can do to make people forget issues at home,” Weddle said. “My home life was sort of rough, but I put the tragedies in my act.”
As he grew up, Weddle learned how to mold tragedy into comedy and to this day, cites his tragic home life as material for his comedic routines.
Growing up with divorced parents and an abusive father, Weddle implemented his current style of dark humor early in his career to evoke laughter from the audience members of his who may deal with family issues similar to his own.
“In a sense, using the dark humor in my material has been a form of retribution for me,” Weddle said. “Comedy is a way to distract people from their issues and at the same time, cope with issues of your own.”
When it comes to the future of the People’s Comedy Club, Weddle said the PCC is looking to increase its presence beyond ECU’s campus by having its members serve as regular performers at the Crossbones Tavern, Whirligig Theatre and the Pitt Street Brewing Company.
“Greenville is becoming a hub for stand up, which is food for the aspiring comedians who want to get a feel for different demographics and audience types,” Weddle said. “We want to get people excited about the local comedy scene growing in the city.”
For more information about the organization and its upcoming fall semester events, visit the People’s Comedy Club’s Instagram or OrgSync page.
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