The Humans of Hofstra - April 17, 2018
Most people wouldn’t expect such a soft-spoken guy to have a passion for comedy, but Mark Melchin really comes into his own when you give him the chance to make you laugh. He doesn’t fit the loud-mouthed class clown stereotype, but when the opportunity presents itself, he becomes the funniest guy in the room.
Melchin, a freshman English major with a focus in publishing studies, has been doing stand-up for only a couple months now with Ha-Ha Hofstra, the university’s stand-up club, and only recently has he gotten the nerve to get up in front of a crowd and try out his sets. “I’ve done stand up with the club a couple of times at the Netherlands open mic,” Melchin said.
“People always seemed to think I had a funny way of talking, so I figured stand-up was something I could do, but I didn’t think it would be as hard as it is.” He said that it’s difficult to “be consistently funny, entertaining and to find punchlines that make people laugh.”
Melchin said that structuring and memorizing his jokes and sets before going up in front of people to perform was the hardest part when he did his first set. It’s one thing to tell a funny story for friends, but it’s another thing when you’re setting up punchlines for strangers in an audience. Melchin wants to continue to do standup here at Hofstra and further hone his skills as a comedian.
Melchin also contributes to Nonsense, the campus humor magazine, as one of the two assistant design directors alongside his friend Sam Riebs. Melchin and Riebs’ roles are to design the layout for many of the magazine’s articles along with current design director Gillian Pitzer.
“You have to design the page in a way that is eye-catching and entertaining to look at without making the text too hard to follow and without confusing the reader. You have to find the balance between the art aspect of the page and the text. Just making it all fit together,” Melchin said.
This position is new to Melchin. His first page of layout is in the most recent issue, “Where in the World is Nonsense Humor?” – but he’s picking it up fast and learning how to use InDesign, the program the magazine uses. “It was really hard at first, but as you work with it more you learn the ins and outs of the program and now I believe I can navigate it pretty well.”
Melchin has also expressed interest in doing more art for the magazine and trying to write articles to accompany his design work.
During his first semester, Melchin had not yet joined Ha-Ha, Nonsense or done any kind of stand-up comedy at the open mics; he spent most of his time focusing on his schoolwork. But this semester, he’s become far more active with on-campus life. “Hofstra’s been way better this semester since I’ve branched out more, joined more clubs and met more people. I feel like I fit in better and now I enjoy the school more,” he said.
Melchin hopes someday to use his education and experience with comedy writing to start a career in publishing, and hopefully someday a career as an author.