The difference between Bill Hohns and most people is that Hohns actually follows up on such unanticipated bolts of brilliance. It was Labor Day, 2015, and Hohns was lathering up in advance of a reception that he and his wife, Kathie, were about to host. Suddenly and inexplicably, he was struck by the notion — indeed, the absolute certainty — that college students should be able to major in comedy. After all, he reasoned, comedic skills — communication, creativity, empathy — are applicable in all areas of life. Plus, he noted, meaningful social commentary is often couched in humor. That evening, the quasi-retired entrepreneur described his idea to Kathie, who shared Monday, we’d outlined a program with 29 courses.” - paign have yet to unfold. But, thanks to the Hohnses, there’s now a burgeoning comedic studies program at the University of Flor ida. And, closer to home, they’re bringing The Second City Touring Company to Orlando for two performances and a pair of workshops. The troupe, which launched the careers of numerous comedy legends, will offer its distinctive blend of scripted and improvised A COMEDIC CURRICULUM ill and Kathie Hohns envisioned a comedy major at the University of Florida. But they got the next best thing: a minor in comedic studies B through UF’s School of Theater and Dance, within the College of the Arts. It began last year with a single course — Comedy Performance 1 — for which ad- more than 250 students applied, including those with such unlikely majors as engineering and pre-law. “When Bill and Kathie come to the table, it’s to do good,” says Jennifer Coolidge, director of development and alumni affairs at the College of the Arts and a longtime - tioned this to me, I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh! This is so perfect I can’t believe it.’” The couple brought Stephen Rosenfeld, founder of New York’s American Comedy Institute, to Gainesville to offer advice and work with students. 34 artsLife | FALL 2016 humor at the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater on Friday, October 14 and Saturday, October 15. Showtime is 8 p.m., and tickets start at $35. The Second City Hits Home, which Orlando audiences will see, is one of a smorgasbord of shows that the touring company has in its repertoire. It’s an audience favorite, according to producer Joseph Ruffner, because it incorporates local references. “You’ll see a sort of ‘greatest hits’ consisting Two professors from the School of Theater and Dance — Jerry Dickey, the director, and Charlie Mitchell, an associate profes- - herded the proposal through the process of being formally declared a minor. business to entertainment to healthcare, employ comedy to achieve their goals,” says Lucinda Lavelli, dean of the College of the Arts. “We’re so grateful to the Hohnses, whose appreciation of its importance has allowed us to bring comedy training to our students, providing an additional skill to advance their careers.” — Randy Noles M UF students Serah Bennett and Zoe Vlahos in a performance at Gainesville's Hippodrome Theater.
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