Cavanaugh named funniest person on campus

By Tom Spencer
On April 29, 2014

  • Salsa Picante in downtown Durham closed its doors in March after months of irregular hours and declining business. Cameron Johnson/Staff
  • Scott Cavanaugh, member of Improv Anonymous and Resident Assistant in Stoke Hall, has been named the funniest person on campus twice by the Campus Activities Board. Cameron Johnson/Staff

Who is the funniest person you know?

The Campus Activities Board have decided that it is Scott Cavanaugh. Twice. 

Cavanaugh is well known around campus, both as a member of Improv Anonymous and as a Residential Assistant in Stoke hall. He is also a two-time winner of the CAB's Funniest Person on Campus contest. 

David Zamansky, Nate Hastings and CAB  members judged the competition. Zamansky acts as the assistant director of the Memorial Union Building Inolvement and Leadership, and Hastings is the coordinator of leadership and student organization services.

"He was by far the funniest person in the competition," Zamansky said about Cavanaugh in an email. "And to be honest, he did not have his best night ... he is that good. I feel like he is just as good if not better than most of the comics we have brought over the years."

"The cool thing is that everyone was funny that night," Zamansky continued. "Scott is just on another level."

Cavanaugh is a junior accounting major, "...which is awkward," Cavanaugh said. "I say [I'm an accounting major] and people are like 'why, that doesn't fit you at all?' I think it's the part of business that I'm bad at, so it's good to round things out."

He got involved with Improv Anonymous after being an orientation leader for incoming freshman. His friends suggested he try improvisational comedy. He had not done any previous stage or theater work.  

"They said that they wouldn't be my friends anymore if I didn't try out," Cavanaugh said. "I really had no idea what to do on stage [when I began.] I just worked." 

Cavanaugh describes his own comedic style as awkward and self-deprecating. 

"I think that's the best because you're not offending anyone, people can just laugh at you," he said. "I hope people can relate to it." 

Cavanaugh's friends from Improv Anonymous convinced him to write a set for CAB's Funniest Person on Campus competition in 2013. The first time Cavanaugh won, he opened for Jay Pharoah, of Saturday Night Live, and the second time he opened for Carly Aquilino and Jessimae Peluso of MTV's Girl Code in April 2014. 

"[The show] went really well, [tons] of people ... come up to me around campus saying 'you did great,'" Cavanaugh said. 

While balancing school, work and student organizations is always challenging, Cavanaugh has found that Stoke's large staff and Improv Anonymous' flexible schedule help keep things manageable. 

"I love working on a big staff, because someone is always able to switch with you," Cavanaugh said. 

Though Cavanaugh doesn't mind acting absurdly in public, it is interesting to pick up the responsibilities of an RA after being ridiculous on stage.

"[My residents attend my shows] a lot, which is nice. They think it's cool their RA is [doing improv.] I hope they still take me seriously, that could always be a problem," Cavanaugh said. "That doesn't just go for residents, that goes for anyone I've ever had to be serious with, but I think I'm pretty good at balancing that." 

Cavanaugh has a talent for interacting on stage with fellow members of the Improv Anonymous troupe. 

"Working with Scott is always a pleasure because he is very clever and quick on his feet," said Dan Shine, a senior English and theater major and member of Improv Anonymous. "He has the inherent gift to take what you give him and turn it into something hilarious. He's one of my favorite people to work with on stage because he is always adapting and feeding his scene partners." 

As for the future, Cavanaugh wants to keep doing comedy. He plans to put his accounting degree to use in a city, where he can continue with comedy in his spare time. His ultimate dream job would be to host a late-night talk show. 

"Business by day, comedy by night is the dream," Cavanaugh said. "It's probably not going to happen exactly the way I plan it, though." 

He and his friend Dylan Palmer, Cavanaugh's RA from freshman year, plan to start a show of their own. 

"Scott and I are putting a show together that goes far beyond just comedy," said Palmer, who graduated from UNH in 2013 with a degree in psychology. 

"[Our show will] consist of stand up, song parody, mentalism and participation from the spectators. We are calling it The Scotty D Show," Palmer said.  

"I think Scott is a great comedian and see success in his future," Shine said. 

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