Introducing Fisher’s Funniest Finance Major...Cal Murata
story: heidi sohngen design: charlotte geary
photo: cal murata
One of our very own here at Fisher is navigating his way through the rigors of college life with a little bit of humor. Cal Murata, a fourth-year finance student from Chicago, is an aspiring stand-up comedian who recently performed his comedy set at TEDxOhioStateUniversity’s annual main event on Feb. 4. This year’s event called Magnify brought the innovative and unique ideas of Ohio State students, faculty members and alumni to the TEDx stage. Performing at this event was a fun and unique opportunity for Murata.
“I kind of felt out of place because there were so many amazing people,” Murata said when reflecting on the experience.
“There were historians and people who have put years and years into studying so many different topics and I’m just a stand-up comedian, but at the same time I think it was good that I could help connect with the students that were in the audience.”
Seeds of interest are planted
Murata’s interest in comedy blossomed during his junior year of high school. It was during this year that he participated in his high school’s comedy-focused talent show. Murata had always loved making his friends laugh, so when he was given the chance to connect with his entire school through his humor, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
After that talent show, Murata realized that comedy was really special and that he should do it more often.
The following summer, Murata began frequenting open mic nights around Chicago, sometimes even performing. Wanting to make comedy more than just a hobby, the summer before coming to Ohio State, Murata researched the comedy specific clubs at Ohio State and discovered the Buckeye Standup Comedy Club. He’s been a member ever since seeking out the club at the involvement fair during his first semester.
"I never would have thought that I’d be able to perform in front of 1,100 people”
Comedy at Ohio State
The Buckeye Standup Comedy Club meetings range from 25 to 35 people a week and are essentially a workshop session.
“You just get up there and try new [material] out on stage and other members give you tips and feedback on your stuff,” said Murata.
In addition to the club’s weekly meetings, an open mic night is held once a month in the basement of the Donatos Pizza across from North Campus. This gives the students who are new to comedy the opportunity to practice their stand-up routines on a stage in front of a real audience.
Murata uses these open mic nights at Donatos, and various other open mic nights around Columbus, to see what new jokes work and can be incorporated into his act. He does this so that when he’s performing in real shows, he tells jokes that have already been tested out and that he knows make people laugh.
The preparation for these open mic nights and coming up with quality jokes takes a lot more time than most would think.
“Most people don’t realize that most of the stuff you write down doesn’t actually make it into your routine,” stated Murata. “Take John Mulaney for example: most of the stuff that he writes down and tries at shows doesn’t actually make it into his final Netflix special.”
Cal Murata’s process and success
For Murata, he draws inspiration for his routines from his family, his half Asian identity and different things that have happened to him or things he’s seen.
Whenever he’s in need of advice on how to write his jokes better or how to become more comfortable on stage, Murata doesn’t have to look far. His uncle, who has been a professional comedian for about 20 years, is always there to help.
“Ever since I was little, I was watching [my uncle] perform,” reflected Murata. “He would bring me to comedy clubs [...] I look up to him a lot.”
Murata was given the opportunity to open for Ken Jeong when he came to Ohio State last September for an Ohio Union Activities Board (OUAB) event at the Ohio Union. Ken Jeong is a stand-up comedian and actor best known for his roles as Ben Chang on the TV show Community and Leslie Chow in the movie The Hangover. When Murata heard Jeong was coming to Ohio State, he took initiative, reaching out to the OUAB comedy chair through email and attaching a video clip of one of his stand-up routines.
“I was just trying to be proactive, and it worked out for me,” stated Murata.
A student who saw Murata perform at the Ken Jeong show nominated him for the TEDx Magnify event that Murata was a part of in February. It’s through this experience that Murata learned that if you just put yourself out there and work hard, amazing things do happen.
“I never would have thought that I’d be able to perform in front of 1,100 people with a guy who was [in] The Hangover,” said Murata. “I’ve performed [nearly] 300 times, so I’m trying my best to do whatever I can.”
Murata’s future outside of comedy
Murata believes he can even take his talent for comedy into his finance career after he graduates this May. Being funny and witty can make it easier to form relationships and connect with people not just on the open mic stage, but in the business world too. Every time he’s on the stage for a stand-up routine, Murata must sell himself to the audience. His experience doing this will translate well into finance when Murata has to pitch projects to his future co-workers and managers. The end goal for Murata though, is to be able to become a professional stand-up comedian, just like his uncle.
“If you are ever interested in doing something, you have nothing to lose by just doing it,” said Murata. “If you don’t like it, that’s fine. You shouldn’t want to try [something] but never do it.”
If you missed Murata’s performance in February, the 2020 videos will be up on the Ohio State TEDx website in the coming weeks. Check out: http://tedxohiostate.wixsite.com/tedxohiostateu to view them.