by Abi Hillrich
On the evening of April 7, Jack Dawdy performed a stand-up comedy show at the Factory Theatre. The show began with an opening act by Eddie Allison, and was aptly titled “Of Life and Death: A Comedy Show.” Silas Groves and Emily Gaffner joined Jack on stage for several sections. “Of Life and Death” was an artful amalgamation of humor, existentialism, and self-awareness. In order to better understand the process of writing, editing, directing, and performing the show, we asked Jack a few questions.
Q: What prompted the creation of your show?
A: I was watching stand-up comedians on Netflix when I stumbled across Bo Burnham. It made me realize that comedy is not something only for famous people to tell a bunch of jokes and get paid a ton of money. It can also be an art form; it can be used as a way to express yourself and your views about life. I had been thinking a lot about that and wanted to see what it would feel like to create something like that.
The super awesome thing about Greenville College is that because it’s such a small school, things aren’t very rigid, and all of the professors are super excited to do things, especially with students. If you have an idea or want to do something, latch onto a relevant professor and pitch your idea to them. They will most likely get just as excited about it as you are and want to see it to completion.
Q: Explain your writing process.
A: I would just close my eyes and imagine myself coming on stage; what did I want to happen? Normally I would just come up with a small idea that I would start expanding upon. Once I had a big mess of words, I would take out what I didn’t like and expand upon what I did like. I worked with Jes Adam and Chris Borwick, and they helped me tighten it up and make it the final product that it was.
Q: What was your favorite part of preparing for the show?
A: I loved seeing it all come together. I really enjoyed writing it, but once I had written it and started getting Emily and Silas involved, I got more excited. Seeing other people get involved in something I’d created was just really cool. It was exciting to see it come into being.
Q: What was your favorite part of the show to perform?
A: The part I loved performing the most was the opening song with lights — making the audience really uncomfortable with the voiceover and then ripping the rug out from under them with the theme song. It was so fun to perform, and I loved hearing their reactions as I did it.
Q: What were some themes that you tried to communicate?
A: The theme I wanted people to feel throughout the entire thing was an uncertainty about life; I wanted them to question the meaning of life and death. Just to feel existentially uncomfortable.
The very last bit I did represents this theme; I talked about life and where we are as a culture today, and the meaning of life as it is.
Normally when you think of stand-up comedy you think of people like Seinfeld, talking about something weird in culture that no one really talks about. I wanted most bits to start with that, and then move into something that you didn’t really expect, something that was just off the wall.