Bringing laughs to Kent State

By Kelly Maile | Staff Writer Published:

Kent State is bringing back Thursday night fun for students, grads and Kent residents. Comedian and Kent State alumnus John Caparulo will perform at Kent State University in the Kent Student Center Ballroom Thursday night.

Caparulo, as seen cracking jokes on E!'s, "Chelsea Lately," The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Comedy central Presents and Blue Collar Comedy, said he always wanted to be a comedian.

"It was all I ever really wanted to do ever since I was 12 and realized sports weren't an option," Caparulo said. "I used to tell stories and people would laugh and from there it became my identity."

Caparulo's first stab at comedy was at Funny Stop Comedy Club in Cuyahoga Falls.

"I went there the first time when I was 19," Caparulo said. "I was scared to death and it was awful. I remember they told me to be clean and I wasn't clean and I got discouraged because I wasn't as good as I thought I would be from the start."

Caparulo had his big break once he finished college.

"I decided to focus on college and once it got to be the end of my time at Kent, I realized everyone else cared about their classes and I didn't," Caparulo said. "I decided to go back and try comedy again, I just didn't tell anyone I was going to do it besides my best friend. I went back to the Falls and it went well that time. I think I needed a few years to grow. I'm from a small town and I met a lot of people from a lot of places in Kent. I think my college experience was what I needed and I knew comedy was all I was going to do anyway."

Caparulo gets inspiration for his material from everyday frustrations of life.

"It's probably just from frustration," Caparulo said. "We comedians are people that get our feathers ruffled very easily. We just get agitated with everything. I'm inspired by the idea of being able to take things that are frustrating or were painful when I was a kid and being able to have people relate to it and laugh with you. It's a really cool experience."

When asked what happens when the audience doesn't laugh, Caparulo said "you move on."

"Every crowd is different," Caparulo said. "You have to feel out the situation for what it is. I went to the comedy club when I first moved to L.A. and I would go on late at night when there were at least six people who were too drunk to leave. I've seen the worst of it. It's not a big deal if they don't laugh at one thing. I just kind of feel out what the crowds sensitivity is and for the most part, if the crowds not laughing I just say, 'well, moving on.'"

Caparulo has a strong tolerance when it comes to hecklers in the audience.

"There are 300 people in there, but for some reason there's always one or two that just can't seem to get the concept," Caparulo said. "It's like there's always one or two dumb kids in the class who just can't get it, like we should be on chapter seven by now, but because of you two we're on three. For people who like to shout out, I typically give them a long leash before I lay into them. I want to try to let them figure it out on their own, because most people would be embarrassed if they're yelling stupid stuff out, but some aren't. I'll give you a pretty long leash before I attack you because in the end it's giving them the show and that's what they want. It's really aggravating."

Caparulo said the key to being a good comedian is honesty.

"Honesty is the most important thing I care about," Caparulo said. "It's my personal preference. I completely understand if someone didn't like my comedy, but please, please just know it's honest. This is who I am, don't think I'm putting on an act."

Caparulo said he has come a long way from his first gig at Funny Stop.

"I've definitely grown as a person and comedian," Caparulo said. "I think I become more myself every day. I think that's the quest for every comic, being completely who you are in a room full of strangers. I don't know these people, so everyone is a little guarded, but I've learned to open up more and more and be myself, and I'm fatter, much fatter."

Caparulo's last performance at Kent State was in 2009 at the Rathskeller. He added that he met his wife that night.

"Generally, when I go to colleges I feel a little bit weird," Caparulo said. "It's getting the point where I'm 37 and some of the people in the audience are freshman. It's a little odd, but Kent is different because I have that connection already. I lived there and I already have a common ground with everybody there. I don't' feel that weirdness that I might have somewhere else."

Elizabeth Holton, the director of programming at Kent State University, is in charge of the John Caparulo show.

"We did a lot of research on who would be good to come to Kent for out students," Holton said. "We really wanted to have a solid comedian because we haven't had a comedian yet this year. We had him come here about four years ago and everyone really enjoyed it. He was hilarious."

Holton said Caparulo reaches the audience on a personal level.

"It's really nice when he comes and does his stand-up because he talks a lot about Ohio and Kent," Holton said. "He knows this area and people cane really relate to him and know what he is talking about."

Holton expects Thursday's show to sell out, with more than 900 people attending.

"We expect a really good turn out," Holton said. "He has great connections with the university and downtown businesses. It's not just the university; it's the people he knows in the area and his family and friends. We're hoping to get as many people as we can to come to the show both on and off campus."

Caparulo will perform Thursday at Kent State University in the Student Center Ballroom. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show will begin at 8 p.m. Tickets for Kent State students will be $5 at the Memorial Athletic and Convocation center ticket office and tickets for the general public will be $10 at the MAC Center and all Ticket master locations.

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