Stretch Yo Self

When I decided to go to Wharton, I remember wanting stretch experiences. But I never expected that to mean performing stand-up comedy to a sold-out room of over 250 peers…

Business school gave me the opportunity to push myself both inside and outside the classroom. Because of Wharton’s non-grade disclosure, I decided early-on to take interesting classes, despite their level of difficulty. Although this often meant more reading and late nights studying, I continued to push myself academically. And while it seemed like I was active outside the classroom – I joined student government, played soccer, and got involved in a few other clubs as I had in my previous undergraduate life – I was not stretching. As my second year began, I reflected on what I wanted out of my remaining time at Wharton. And I changed everything.

By the end of September, I joined the Wharton Wildmen hockey team, never before playing a single game of ice hockey. I ventured onto the stage of Wharton’s Dance Studio, never before dancing hip-hop (let alone dancing in public outside the confines of a bar at 1am). And I joined the Comedy Club.

I’ve always had a passion for stand-up comedy. When I was younger, I used to memorize acts from Jim Carrey and watch marathon reruns of Saturday Night Live. Soon after joining, I began to meet with other members of the Comedy Club every Monday night at a local Philly dive bar, often sitting in a circle vetting bits from their routines. At first, I went to these meet-ups and was resigned to only providing feedback to other student comedians. But gradually, I gained the confidence to come prepared with a few lines of material. A month later, I decided to throw my hat in the ring and try out for the fall semester comedy show. To my surprise, I was one of the six students selected to perform.

Two weeks later, and after what seemed like hundreds of iterations to my routine, I found myself on stage in front of a packed room of my peers. To say I was nervous is a severe understatement. Would I forget my lines? Would I deliver them correctly? And more importantly, was I even funny?  I took a deep breath, grabbed the microphone from its stand, and dove head first into my routine. After about 25 seconds, I received my first big laugh. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.

At Wharton, I’ve been encouraged to take risks; to stretch myself. In an environment where I’m surrounded by intellectual powerhouses and rockstars, I am constantly pushed to try new things. If you asked me two years ago as I applied to Wharton if I would ever do stand-up comedy, I would have laughed. But today, I can say proudly that I took a risk, reached beyond my comfort zone, and became a more well-rounded person. And I made a few others laugh in the process.