On Thursday, Oct. 22, Monmouth University’s CommWorks held a virtual open mic night. In this touching, two hour event, members of both the club and the greater campus community performed works of music, poetry, and even standup comedy.
Major themes of the night included growth. Hannah Cohen, a communication student, performed her own poem, entitled “A Changing World.” This poem beautifully touched on changes in perspective as one grows from child to adult.
Like Cohen, Jeff Dicken, a member of both CommWorks and HawkTV, performed a song called “Story of My Life.” Accompanied by his guitar, his lyrics encouraged listeners to enjoy every single moment, because life passes you by. Dicken also read a poem on the same topic, called “Growing Up.”
What made this event so unique was the strong sense of community and connectedness, despite not being face-to-face. Participants felt comfortable to express raw emotion through their works of art, while being supported and encouraged by others. Attendees were urged to keep their microphones on for applause, and the chat box was flooding with words of praise for the duration of the event.
For Fabian Howe, an attendee of the event, the support was overwhelming. Howe, a local insurance agent and patron of the arts, came to the open-mic to read an original poem entitled, “Not Only.” In this poem, he opened up about how having an absent father while growing up inspired him to go above and beyond for his own children.
Though some performances like Howe’s were tear-jerkers, Edward Mullane’s stand-up comedy bit had people crying of laughter. Mullane’s first skit touched on humility, while poking fun at the wealthy members of a country club he works at. The second part of his act satirized Zoom classes, which was very timely.
This event was a success, as many members left with smiles on their faces. Professor of Communication Claude Taylor expressed his appreciation for the event. He said, “Notice right now in this virtual space, the interwovenness of all of our imaginations…this is amazing. What’s so incredible is that there’s a group of 15 to 20 people here staring at tiles on a screen and all of our imaginations, our lived experience, our messages, the way we’ve encoded and decoded messages through our lives, are all colliding here in this really fabulous experience of the art and artistic expression.”
CommWorks President, Penelope Elliot, expanded on Taylor’s thoughts by adding, “I’m so moved by every single one of you, and I’m sitting alone in my kitchen.” She noted how special it was that everyone could connect on a deeper level and appreciate each other’s performances despite the event being virtual.
All in all, the event was a tremendous success and proved that virtual events don’t necessarily diminish value or connection. The club hopes to get one more open-mic night accomplished before the end of the semester.
For more information, be sure to follow @mucommworks on Instagram.
PHOTO COURTESY of Hannah Cohen