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Features

Campus Comedian Brendan Short

default article image“I’m not good at dating. But it’s hard to be good at dating when you’re spending most of your time acting like Steve from Blue’s Clues.”

On stage, Brendan Short stands tall during his usual stand-up routine, wracking his brain for the jokes he spent weeks perfecting.

Off stage, Brendan is a senior business student at Monmouth University and a native to Monmouth Beach, so he is never not appearing at one of the local bars like The Chubby Pickle in Highlands or Old Glory Kitchen & Sprits in Keyport to perform a three-minute bit.

“For anyone who does stand up, there’s this dichotomy of whether or not you like writing or you like performing,” he said. “I’m much more on the writing side.”

One late afternoon, the Monday after hosting an open-mic night as Comedy Chair of the Student Activities Board (SAB), Brendan casually pulled out a notebook of jokes from his backpack and flipped to a random page. “This looks like I’m really prepared, but it’s just stuff I bring with me everywhere I go. It’s all in the ‘process.’ That’s the word we assign to neuroses,” he laughed.

Brendan’s writing process is simple. He begins with a single word like “dating” and proceeds from there, searching for relatable moments and phonological word pairings. He explained, “I have a setup and then the first point I want to make, the second point I want to make, etc. It’s very intuitive, the way I write it. When I first started, I used to write it out in prose

and try to remember it verbatim, almost like doing a monologue for a dramatic scene, but instead with potty jokes.”

So, what exactly jostles the funny bone? The comedic connoisseur explained, “There’s a science to how punchlines work. They have to have certain kinds of subtleties that help people know they’re the punchlines, like alliteration and assonance. It’s very literary. It makes people laugh when they hear similar sounds like that.” He also said that specificity, like referring to “Steve from Blue’s Clues,” is the key to making a crowd crack up.

But, sometimes they don’t.

“I did stand-up comedy at Monmouth’s Ebony Night last year,” he mentioned. “Well, people didn’t laugh, so I kind of did comedy.”

It’s not unusual for Brendan to face tough crowds, or “high ceilings,” which is what he blames any lack of laughter on. In fact, he feels that the highest ceilings are found in bars. He said, “Bar open mics are really depressing because usually people aren’t going there for comedy. And they’re usually on Mondays or Thursdays, and if you’re in a bar on a Monday or a Thursday, you’re there for a different reason, if you know what I mean. Those can be excruciating, but they’re good because they help you build up character in a tough situation.”

When Brendan first pursued stand-up two summers ago, stage fright would nearly convince him to back down from what he loves most. He said, “The feeling of stage fright is just everyday life—like conversing. But on stage, it’s an amplified version. Before I go on, I get in my own head and have this mechanism that tells me, ‘You don’t want to do this.’ But I when I do it, I say, ‘That wasn’t bad! I liked it.’ And when you do it frequently enough, you kind of become callous—in a good way—to it. The nature of comedy is risky.”

Getting on stage with the possibility of falling flat takes guts, but Brendan is always

ready and willing to take those risks. He even kickstarted the Monmouth Comedy Club in March 2019. As the founder and president, he sought a place for students to organize open-mic nights, invite guest comics, and appreciate the art of comedy. But it hasn’t been much of a breeze.

“The Comedy Club has been such a Sisyphean task,” he admitted. “It’s like rolling a rock up a hill and then the second you take a break, it rolls right back down. Out of all the extracurriculars I’m involved in, it’s the most difficult because it’s a very small organization. It’s such a niche interest.”

Jonathan Daigle Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Business and faculty advisor of the Comedy Club, met the devoted student in his Principles of Finance course in spring 2019. He said, “Brendan demonstrated a great work ethic in the course and clearly has the same work ethic in starting and growing the Comedy Club. He has a very bright future.”

Brendan also hosts The Short Show every Sunday from 8-10 pm on the student-run radio station WMCX, where he talks comedy and music (one of his other interests). He even piloted Late-Night Monmouth at HawkTV in the fall 2019 semester. He carries his Comedy Bible in his backpack every day, a how-to book titled Comedy Writing for Late Night TV.

“I’m more willing to try comedy in different mediums because of Monmouth,” he said. “I wish more students would try to get involved with something that interests them while they’re in college, because soon enough it’s too late. Whether that be comedy or something else.”

While Brendan brings the craft of comedy into his academic life, he is not exactly a class clown. Rather, he is quite tactful with his jokes, spotting the right time to spit out his best quip. In fact, he fancies conversational humor more than stand-up.

“Brendan is an extremely funny person with the most outrageous vocabulary,” commented Cameron Oakley, a junior health studies student, friend of Brendan’s, and co-host of

The Short Show. “Any given conversation can have me both laughing so hard that I’m tearing up, and feeling like I’m in SAT prep.”

So, how did Brendan get his comedic chops?

Growing up in an Irish-American family, the quipster is surrounded by a close, all-around hilarious clan. The art of humor made up a chunk of adolescent years, watching comedians like Conan O’Brien, David Letterman, and celebrity twin John Mulaney.

He added, “In high school, I had a good friend group that laid down my foundation [of comedy], where we could just riff and be absolutely silly. But then I went to college.”

The comedian explained that he found himself socially isolated during his two years at Montclair State University before transferring to Monmouth. He became “deeply depressed” at his former school, but eventually revived his niche by writing sketches and stand-up routines.

“I think that every kid has that creative bone that lets them be funny and at a certain point, they might lose it and they kind of have to fight to keep it. I almost lost it in the beginning of college, and I fought to bring it back.”

Now that Brendan’s routines are in full swing, he is wholly committed to his pursuit of comedy. In fact, he fancies the idea of writing sitcom scripts in the future.

“Comedy is definitely something I see him doing forever,” said Cameron. “There’s not another thing I could see him even close to doing instead.”

In some years down the road, he might just be the face of Late Night with Brendan Short. He is tall enough to reach those high ceilings.

Contact Information

CAMPUS LOCATION
The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

MAILING ADDRESS
The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey
07764

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151
Email: outlook@monmouth.edu