Touring comic sets laugh-a-minute pace

By Sean Leary

It was a sold-out crowd that greeted comedienne Elayne Boosler Friday night in the Holmes Student Center’s Carl Sandburg Auditorium. And Boosler, whose credits include five cable TV specials and countless guest appearances on TV series and specials, certainly did not disappoint that crowd.

Boosler’s appearance was the opening event of the activities planned for Parents’ Weekend at NIU. The event was organized by the Campus Activities Board and was part of the “Pontiac All-Star Comedy Caravan,” a tour in the midst of bringing comedians to colleges across the United States.

The tour covers 30 schools this fall and will visit an anticipated 20 additional universities in the spring. Boosler was only one in a long line of comedians scheduled. Before her visit to NIU, she also appeared at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

It was transportation problems in her trip from Carbondale that delayed Boosler’s arrival to NIU and forced a 20-minute wait on the crowd. Upon arriving, she was faced with a difficult task: going directly to the stage upon her arrival with little, if any, time at all to catch her breath.

“I really wasn’t nervous or anything, going directly to the stage,” Boosler said. “I’ve been in the business for a long time, so I’m used to it and I really don’t need time to rehearse or anything.”

Boosler explained that in preparing, she makes up a set of note cards and writes one key word which sums up a topic on each of them, and places them on her chair on stage. “I don’t really go to them that much though, because usually one subject will lead to another and I’ll just get on a roll,” Boosler said. “The majority of the show is already in my head. There is also a lot of improvisation when I’m out there.”

Boosler’s show covered topics from Pete Rose to feminine hygiene products, centered on the humorous side of life and used a minimum of profanity and confrontational humor. “I try to stay away from that kind of humor,” Boosler said. “I don’t use humor that is confrontational with the audience or is too regional. I don’t come out and tell jokes about the Midwest while I’m here, or California while I’m there, or anything like that. People know what it’s like where they are and they don’t need someone to tell them it sucks there or to put it down,” Boosler said.

She added, “I see my humor as totally universal, but with an urban sensibility. When people come to the show, I want them to be able to identify with the jokes.” Her philosophy on comedy showed through her material, which covered the humorous side of events and circumstances familiar to everyone. In addition, she kept the show moving at a ricochet pace, moving from topic to topic with a fluidity that kept the audience continually entertained.

“The show seemed to go by really fast,” said NIU student Rob Egeland. “She was really good, very funny and she kept everyone laughing. I thought that for a while she might hit a slow spot, and the show would drag by until she got to another funny part, but she never did,” Egeland said.

At the end of her show, Boosler barely had a moment to relax before she was on the road again to Chicago, but the strain never seemed to show. “I’m really happy doing comedy. It’s great making people laugh and there really is nothing else I’d rather do,” Boosler said.