Before the question of what spirit animal he resonates with was even finished being asked, Harold answered “pelican” enthusiastically.
“They’re goofy looking,” he said. “They can be fun. They can also attack people.”
Harold Rogers is a senior member of Sketch Writing and Acting Group, or S.W.A.G, as well as Not Very Funny, a comedy performance club on campus. If you watch him on stage or listen to his sets, you would never know he’s only been doing stand-up for two years.
Harold’s interest in stand-up was sparked when he was a sophomore at Miami and attended a comedy show put on by Not Very Funny. Harold was intrigued by the club and went home to work on his own material. By the time of Not Very Funny’s spring show, he was performing with them.
Growing up, Harold always liked stand-up and comedies, but he never thought he could perform comedy himself. In school, he would often get in trouble for making jokes during class.
His favorite comedians are Chris Rock, Jerrod Carmichael and Maria Bamford, but when it comes to influences, he wants to have a stage presence like Bernie Mac.
“I think being able to be captivating on stage and getting people to pay attention to you is amazing,” Harold said.
Another thing he aims to do during every set is get people to laugh at things that they think they shouldn’t laugh at. He describes his sense of humor as “a little dark” — he thinks sad and terrible things are a little funny, and during his sets he tries to get other people to think they’re funny, too.
One of his recent jokes he’s been performing is about his grandfather’s recent stroke. Harold thought his grandpa was just joking, and didn’t do anything to help. His reaction to the emergency now makes him laugh.
Sometimes when he performs, someone from one of his classes will be in the audience. They’re always surprised to find out that the quiet guy from class is on-stage doing comedy.
“Someone from class will see me perform and be like, ‘You’re funny!’” Harold said. “They’ll say, ‘You’re not like that in class,’ and I’m like, ‘I know! It’s not the place for it.’”
He performs stand-up once or twice a month at Bar 1868 or Wilks Theater with Not Very Funny. He prefers the bar sets because there are more opportunities for interaction with the crowd.
“At Wilks, if there’s not a lot of people, they’ll sit far away or be reluctant to laugh,” he said. “At the bar, you can see everyone, they’re right in your face.”
Along with comedy clubs, Harold is also a member of the boxing club. While the clubs may not seem to have much crossover, Harold describes his headspace before a comedy set as similar to before a fight.
“I’m fighting with the crowd,” he said. “I got to beat them, and enforce my will on them.”
He’s fighting to be able to feel the crowd’s energy, for just between five to 15 minutes.
He’s not always a crowd pleaser. On his third time doing stand up, Not Very Funny went to an open mic event at Crossroads Church. The event mostly featured live musicians, so the audience wasn’t very happy when Harold interrupted the music the crowd was enjoying with shocking, reaction-inducing material that he says was “not very funny.”
“One person. One person in the whole room was laughing.” Harold said with a laugh of his own. “Everyone else was just kind of looking at me with pity.”
Harold is a philosophy major and will graduate in the spring. He’s trying to get a non-comedy related job for next year. For now, performing comedy for a living doesn’t seem feasible to him.
Being a comedian has helped Harold socially; he now finds he has a better sense of what to say and what not to say in conversations.
“A lot of times when someone’s talking to you and you’re just like, ‘Why are they talking? Why are they saying this out loud?’” he said. “I generally keep those thoughts to myself now.”