Playground 311 delivers laughs at a sold-out student-run comedy club
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It was 8:10 p.m. last Wednesday, when “we are already full” could be heard from the bouncer. It drew groans from those still waiting in line, about 20 people deep in the backyard of the Comstock Avenue residence. In just 10 minutes, all 54 seats had been taken.
“Maybe they could sit on the stairs,” TV, radio and film student Liz Goldblatt said, convincing the bouncer that maybe two or three more people could squeeze in. She is one of the co-founders of The Playground 311, along with James Cunningham. and Sophie Schlosser.
This was the first comedy show where The Playground tried a “first come, first served” policy, instead of using RSVPs as it has done on the past three shows. It clearly worked – the student-run comedy club seemed to be in high demand.
At the bottom of the stairs, attendees were greeted in a basement bathed in blue LED lights, buzzing with people mingling as they settled into their seats. The ambiance particularly stood out – there was an eclectic collection of second-hand sofas and stools against a tongue-in-cheek tapestry of “The Last Supper” hanging on the far wall. Three individual white doors provided the backdrop for the homemade wooden stage, with the words “BRM THE PLAYGROUND” artistically graffitied on them with blue spray paint. Electric tealights lined the bottom of the stage.
“Are you ready for the show? Carly Murray, a sophomore in communications and rhetorical studies, asked.
Murray, a first-time host, warmed up the crowd and announced that there was a birthday girl in the room. As a result, she got the whole crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” in unison.
The Playground is currently the only stand-up comedy venue for students at Syracuse University. Although this project is only about a month old, its conception has been brewing since the fall 2021 semester.
When Cunningham, a television, radio and film junior, met Goldblatt in a comedy writing class last semester, he hadn’t planned on eventually pitching her a business proposition, which he hammered out during winter break while applying for internships at comedy clubs. . He thought starting his own comedy club would be a great way to get first-hand experience.
“You’re not going to see a single group of friends there,” Cunningham said. “You see people and artists from all over campus in one place, which I think is so cool.”
Cunningham has wanted to try stand-up comedy since he was little. The Playground would be a natural extension of his current podcast show, “Bad Role Models,” or BRM. Just as his show aims to bring together different people of all kinds to discuss current issues, Cunningham wanted to start a comedy club for SU students from all walks of life to come together and laugh.
Cunningham saw Goldblatt as a natural candidate to start a comedy club with. As a four-year member of SU’s improv team, Zamboni Revolution, Goldblatt had the experience and connections to become one of The Playground’s leading comics and head of talent acquisition. – all potential comics go through it first.
“I thought she was so funny,” Cunningham said. “She’s hilarious.”
After weeks of sitting on Cunningham’s proposal, Goldblatt texted him half an hour after he pitched his idea to Schlosser, a television, radio and film junior, on his way home from a comedy show at Funny Bone, an adult comedy club in Destiny USA. Schlosser was enthusiastic about creating a space where she really belonged.
“I’m into Greek life here, but I haven’t found my place on campus yet,” she said. “That is, until we launched The Playground, and now I really feel at home in this environment.”
Schlosser is also one of the main comics and runs The Playground’s Instagram page, helping with the show’s production.
Goldblatt offered his basement as the venue, which was already known as “The Playground” among his friends. She said she thought the name was fitting, because her family members worked with the random things that previous “frat bro” tenants left behind when decorating the basement.
“We made it totally fun and playful. If you go there, there’s like random mannequin parts and bullhorns and wigs and all that goofy stuff that just makes you happy,” Goldblatt said.
Murray is one of seven other Goldblatt roommates in the Comstock Avenue house. She does the graphics for the Instagram page and works with the other roommates to get the house ready for guests every Wednesday night.
“Every single person in this house is essential for this to happen,” Murray said.
After inviting 35 people to the first show on February 9 and almost double the number of people who showed up, Murray knew the club would be special.
At first the interpreters came from friends of Cunningham, Goldblatt and Schlosser. But as the shows became more popular, more people started messaging the Instagram account wanting to try their hand at comedy.
“So many random people are interested in this that wouldn’t have been before. (I even have) people on the rowing team telling me they want to try stand-up now. said Goldblatt.
Zach Cohen saw an opportunity to give comedy, one of his personal loves, at the opening of The Playground.
Without that opportunity, Cohen assumed he wouldn’t have tried his hand at stand-up until his 40s. Hannibal Buress and Pete Davidson are two comics Cohen said he keeps in mind when writing material he plans to try.
The various sets on Wednesday’s show touched on many different topics, including body dysmorphia, experiences with drugs, issues with corporate America, and even the simple dilemma of what to order at Schine Student Center.
Organizers of The Playground said the comedy club aims to be like a beacon of warmth in Syracuse, hoping diverse people of all identities and life experiences will feel welcome to perform and enjoy the show.
“I feel like so many people here struggle all the time, with mental health and sexuality, or situations with their families, or whatever,” Goldblatt said. “Even though the school can talk about it and offer resources, it won’t be the same as watching people who go to your same school and laughing with them and getting that space to talk about it.”
Published on March 8, 2022 at 9:53 p.m.