On the Campus...
April 6, 2005:
for laughs, bidding for books
By Katherine Reilly ’05
The up-and-comers in the world of stand-up comedy are not always
the ones on the road, working the club circuit, as many Princeton
students discovered on a Thursday evening in late February. Some
fledgling comedians spend their days cramming for midterms, editing
theses, and laboring over dissertations (just like their undergraduate
and graduate school classmates), before taking to the stage with
a bevy of material about their roommates, their parents, and the
exotic state of New Jersey. Catch A Rising Star Comedy, a chain
of clubs that has hosted performers from Jerry Seinfeld to Jon Stewart,
brought its “College Comedy Challenge” to Princeton
on Feb. 24 to choose the University’s funniest people. Held
at Tower Club, the event attracted an overflow audience of students
eager to see Princeton’s rising stars for themselves.
The show featured routines by 10 student comedians, many of them
members of Princeton Stand-Up Comedy, a student organization that
works to provide comedians with performance venues. The judges,
including Catch A Rising Star CEO Craig Neier, scored the competitors
on stage presence, audience response, originality, and material.
At the end of the evening, the four funniest students were selected
to go on to the next round of competition against performers from
other area schools.
Marisa Biaggi, a graduate student in the music department, was
one of those selected, winning the crowd over with jokes about the
injustice of handicapped parking spaces. She began doing stand-up
three years ago at the urging of a friend who played on her “delusions
of comic grandeur” and convinced her to take to the stage.
Once she did, she was hooked. “After you make a roomful of
people laugh just once,” she said, “you just want to
keep doing it.”
Patrick Cunningham ’05 perfected his material, including
complaints about his parents’ penchant for buying him irregular
clothing, in on-campus performances and at comedy clubs and open
mike nights in New York City. The senior English major was the favorite
of the judges; one called him “the rare kid who could skip
the minor leagues and go directly to the majors.” Instead,
Cunningham, a Marshall Scholar, will be taking his act to England
next year. He hopes to perform in clubs in and around London while
pursuing a degree at Oxford.
Cunningham and Biaggi, along with graduate student Jason Lawrence
and junior Ben Fast, are one step closer to the big time as they
await the next round of competition in the Catch A Rising Star contest.
According to Biaggi, the “comedy showdown” will be held
at one of the company’s local comedy clubs and “no one
has yet confirmed whether or not we get to wear spurs.”
While some Princeton students shine on stage, senior Clay Bavor
has applied his creative energies to enhancing student life over
the Internet. Bavor’s latest endeavor, TigerTrade, is an online
auction site that allows students to buy and sell everything from
used textbooks to cars to DVDs. Launched in early March, TigerTrade
is part of Point.Princeton.edu, a student Web portal the features
daily headlines, polls, and information about campus events. In
the auction site’s first week, more than 200 items were put
up for bidding, a number that is expected to increase dramatically
at the end of the year when students begin seeking summer housing
and selling textbooks and furniture.
Bavor developed the idea for TigerTrade with friend and classmate
Jesse Levinson ’05 as part of an assignment for Professor
Kenneth Steiglitz’s “Electronic Auctions” course.
Bavor was also working on the original design for the Point site
at the time and saw a need for a retooled auction site to replace
the antiquated Salesline and Bookline, essentially online classifieds
provided by the Undergraduate Student Government. After some long
hours designing a user interface and testing the program, the auction
site was ready to be released to the Princeton public. Originally
launched as pBay, the site was renamed TigerTrade after only a few
days in order to avoid confusion with the popular online auction
site eBay, run by another Princetonian, CEO Meg Whitman ’77.
TigerTrade quickly attracted many fans among the student body.
Items up for auction include summer sublets in New York’s
East Village, used psychology textbooks, and sets of dishes. Students
have also used the site to find editors for their senior theses
and classmates to share a spring break drive home. Bavor has his
sights set even higher. “My biggest hope for TigerTrade,”
he said, “is that by providing a popular, easy-to-use marketplace,
students will stop paying full price for books at the beginning
of the semester and then reselling them for a fraction of the price
a few months later.” That’s one trade Princetonians
would be happy to make.
Katherine Reilly ’05, a Woodrow Wilson School major,
can be reached at email@example.com.