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Southeastern comedians flood Oxford with laughter

It’s been a long semester. Exams, papers and the much-hated group projects seem to all be stacking up. During these periods of extreme anxiety and sleeplessness, it’s necessary to have a good laugh.
Luckily for you, there is a good opportunity for some chuckling this weekend.
Improv groups and stand-up comedians from as far as Lafayette, La., and as close by as Tupelo will invade the Powerhouse Community Arts Center for the Southeastern Comedy Arts Festival (SECAF) tonight and Saturday. There will be multiple events where you can finally release some of those tears of joy that you’ve been holding back.
Bruce Butler, director and coordinator of SECAF and member of Oxford’s improv group, Laff Co., explained the purpose of the weekend.
“The festival is for member groups of the Southeastern Comedy Arts Alliance (SECAA) to promote the comedic arts in the area and show the diversity of comedy through the performances of the variety of its members,” he said.
“You get together with people who have ideas you haven’t seen or had and get to perform with people outside of your troupe,” said Carolyn Free, a member of Laff Co. and SECAF participant.
There have been five festivals throughout the Southeast over the past six years, and Free said it’s been fun to share the comedy.
“Performers know how fun it is, but it’s really fun to watch,” Free said. “And it’s not nearly as fun when people aren’t there to join in.”
For you, the viewing public, there are multiple events to attend, which means there will be multiple chances for you to guffaw with your fellow Oxonians.
First, tonight at 8 p.m. will be the Comedy Jam performance. This will involve all the visiting improv groups. They will be divided into two teams and will participate in a competition-style improv game with a referee and a superfluous point system.
There will be a plethora of events Saturday. From 10 a.m. to noon and from 1-3 p.m., SECAF will be hosting a comedy workshop. Each workshop has 20 seats open for interested Oxonians to take. The workshops will be run and hosted by George Faughnan and Travis Sharp of the Atlanta improv group Dad’s Garage. Together, Faughnan and Sharp have almost 40 years of experience performing and teaching comedy, and they will be valuable resources for anyone interested in getting started in comedy or continuing to perform.
Saturday night there will be two improv shows at 8 and 10 p.m., respectively. Unlike Friday’s shows, these will have the improv groups perform independently of one another. Peppered between the improv groups will be stand-up comedians, who will also be participating in the festival. The first show is open to all ages and comedic dispositions, but the second should be a little edgier. So for those folks with children or a low tolerance for adult humor, go to the 8 p.m. show.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Butler said. “It’ll be a good opportunity to see other improv groups from the area, as well as stand-ups.”
Admission to the shows does cost a little money, as traveling for these improv groups is not free. It is $7 for each show and $15 for a weekend pass, which includes all three performances.
“People need to laugh,” Butler said. “There’s so much going on in the world: elections, the economy, etc. It’s good to get together and have a good time.”