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Comedian Kate Berlant performs at the Satellite Student Union as part of the Jokes for Votes comedy tour on Oct. 20, 2016. (Christian Ortuno/The Collegian)

Jokes for Votes: comedy tour encourages voting by inducing laughs

Jokes for Votes is a stand-up comedy show that has toured around California’s college campuses to encourage students to vote.

Around 300 people attended Jokes for Votes in the Student Satellite Union on Thursday night. Each event features four stand-up comedians and also has voter registration forms available for students.

University Student Union event coordinator Sona Soghomonian said the event helps to educate students about voting.

“I think a lot of college students don’t think it is important to vote because they’re not educated about how it works, so we’re handing out flyers that have facts about voting,” Soghomonian said. “Hopefully this information will help students to realize that their votes can make a difference.”

Soghomonian said helping coordinate Jokes for Votes is a great way to give back to her fellow students.

“I’m doing this for my fellow peers and my fellow classmates, so it’s nice to set up this big event and see people have a great time with it,” Soghomonian said. “I think it reminds people that there is more to college than studying and homework.”

Student coordinator Alejandra Prado said the event does more than just encourage students to vote.

“It’ll help students to laugh, relax and take a break from midterms,” she said.

Stand-up comedian Beth Steeling said she became involved with Jokes for Votes to encourage more people to vote in an election that she views as significant to the future of the country. Comedians Kate Berlant, Demetri Martin and James Adomian also performed during the show.

“I got involved because I think this is an important election,” Steeling said. “I want more people to vote, and I know it can be confusing. Sometimes it’s hard to admit that you don’t know what you need to know about registering.”

Although the purpose of the event is to encourage students to vote, Steeling said her favorite part of performing in Jokes for Votes is making people laugh.

“It’s been so fun, whether the audience comes out for a certain comedian they like, or if they come because they like comedy in general,” Steeling said. “It’s not all about voting; we’re out here to have a good time.”

Steeling said she is passionate about issues such as mass incarceration and women’s rights, but chooses not to include political commentary in her comedy.

“I am a feminist, and I exercise my feminism not by talking about feminist issues, but by being a funny woman in a field that is mainly male-dominated,” Steeling said.

She said she hopes students learn from the event that anyone can inspire others to vote.

“You don’t have to be famous to encourage others to vote,” Steeling said. “When everyone comes out here together and they see all the other students in the crowd, they realize, as they’re sitting in our audience, that they’re not just one person. That if we all voted it may actually make a difference.”