The University of Virginia has been fortunate enough to serve as a home for many remarkable alumni over the years. From Edgar Allen Poe to President Woodrow Wilson, the university has a renowned reputation for scholarship.
Academics aside, we have a great sense of humor too. Seeing as two of our most famous alumni are comedians. This post is aimed to look at a lighter side of UVa – our comedy scene and the alumni who helped to pave the way.
Comedy queen Tina Fey graduated from UVa in 1992 with a BA in Drama. 21 years later, Fey returned to Grounds as the inaugural speaker for Presidential Speakers Series in September 2013. While she was a student at UVa Fey found her niche in the theatre community. A member of First Year Players (one of their famous selling points as a CIO) and the Drama Department Fey began dabbling in playwriting and rumored to have been part of a group who tried to start an improv comedy group.
I’m sure Fey was proud to see another UVa alumna follow in her SNL footsteps. Sasheer Zamata was also a member of First Year Players, the Drama Department, Spectrum Theatre, and a founding member of Amuse Bouche Improv Comedy. With the birth of UVa’s 2nd improv group in 2007, Zamata helped to bring long form improv to Grounds, skills she carried on as a member of the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City. She is also returning to UVa this semester to perform stand-up comedy as a part of a college tour, with her alumna matter group opening the show.
Fey and Zamata are not the only funny people to cross through Grounds. UVA alumna have pursued comic career that have lead them everyone from The Groundlings in Los Angeles, to the Upright Citizens Brigade Touring Company, to writing for the The Onion. One thing you can’t deny as an UVa student is the accessibility of opportunities. If there is something you want to do – there are people who want to help you and there is a way. We can thank these two funny ladies for taking advantage of their opportunities and help to pave the way for comedy at UVa. We now have two improv comedy troupes, a sketch comedy organization, and a newly found group for student stand-up comedians.
Being surrounded by constant academic rigor can be straining so make sure to take a few moments to laugh, crack a joke, and remember that you too have the opportunities to be an insanely funny person.