We Are English Majors: Ethan Victor
Ethan is a senior majoring in English and a standup comedian. We asked him four questions about the funny side of being an English major.
How and when did you get the idea that you wanted to be a comedian?
I always wanted to be a comic, but I never thought that I could given how scared I get speaking to people. When I got to college, I noticed that there was a freshman seminar with Dr. Karma Waltonen in stand-up comedy. The final of the class is to go up and perform in front of an audience. This was going to force me out of my shell to talk to a large audience. Since then, I have worked with Dr. Waltonen and a group of students; we perform together and workshop on a weekly basis. Hopefully this will continue for me in the future.
Who are your main comedic influences? Any funny writers?
My main comedic influences are Jon Stewart, Trevor Noah, Larry David, and Matt Braunger. I like the satire that Stewart and Noah have provided. Larry David's social commentary has made my hyperaware of society and the actions that make people click. When I first started listening to comedians, Matt Braunger was one of the first that I heard. He has stuck with me since.
What’s the funniest book you’ve ever read?
I strive to use humor to enlighten my audience, so I think the most enlightening books that I have read were Kurt Vonnegut's "Cat's Cradle" and Nathanael West's "A Cool Million." I have read "Cat's Cradle" a few times, the first in eighth grade. It was the first time I can remember really having my eyes opened to a belief that was similar to mine. Since then, I have continued to read Vonnegut and accepted more of his world view. The same can be said for Nathanael West. I don't think either of them have books that are laugh out loud funny, but they require one to reflect, which is so important. Both draw on the absurd to connect to reality, which is what I strive for in telling my jokes. I am not either of these authors, but I aim to be a storyteller in a similar fashion.
What’s next for you after graduation?
My post-graduate plans are up in the air. I'm currently waiting to hear back from graduate schools about a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. I hope to get in and pursue stand up on the side as I continue to learn more about the language. I am also applying to writing jobs in Los Angeles and other major cities that have comedy scenes like Chicago and New York that will allow me to pursue my passion of both writing and telling jokes with the hopes of getting noticed and making a living telling jokes.
Photo credit: Briana Ngo / The California Aggie