In October of 2018, Sam Frye, a Virginia Tech junior majoring in marketing, decided, as a sophomore, to make his own comedy club on campus called The Comedy Conglomerate. After auditioning for Improv at Virginia Tech, a comedy acting group on campus, Frye and his friends did not get accepted into that organization. Wanting to make their own impact in Virginia Tech’s comedy community, Frye and Tejas Jagdhari, a sophomore double majoring in engineering sciences and mechanics and physics, decided to start their own comedy club — with no audition process.
To Frye and the other founding members, comedy is a learning curve. Frye said that learning what makes something funny, how to use material in a certain context or how to perform stand-up are all a part of that curve. For that reason, they omitted the audition process.
“Anyone can join the club,” Frye said. “We have members that aren’t even affiliated with Virginia Tech. We’re comfortable operating on an amateur level to build each other up.”
Currently, the club has about 25-30 members, but the road to that number was tough. In order to create a club on campus, a certain number of people are required to be signed-on to the club. So, Frye had to find enough students willing to be position holders before their club could begin.
“It was originally to give back to the Virginia Tech campus,” Frye said, in response to the goal of the club. “To make people laugh, like in comedy, that’s what you do.”
Previously, the club partnered with Relay For Life at Virginia Tech for a show where ticket sales benefited the American Cancer Society. According to Frye, the club’s goal has not changed, but as the club grew, so did their involvement in getting comedy performers to come to campus and hopefully raise money in the process. Frye said that the club is still trying to fulfill their initial philanthropic goal.
The Comedy Conglomerate primarily does stand-up shows. They perform Thursday nights at various locations that include The Milk Parlor, Slice Queen and outside of DX. The club occasionally engages in roasts, where people can pay a dollar to have a consenting friend or themselves be roasted.
Additionally, a few members of the club compose Center Street interviews that have appeared on Barstool Sports media accounts. Some of those interviews have collected around 100,000 views.
However, shows and interviews are not the only aspects to The Comedy Conglomerate. A team within the club is currently working on producing and creating a cartoon.
“(The cartoon) is to set a critique on certain stereotypes that are placed upon people that do certain jobs,” Frye said. “I like to describe it as ‘Donnie Darko’ meets ‘Archer’ meets ‘Rick and Morty’ with a splash of Deadpool’s fourth-wall breaks.”
Frye, now a junior, decided to not run again for the president position of the club. As president, Frye engaged in managerial tasks like contacting performers, planning gigs and reaching out to businesses.
“As long as the club maintains balancing that sort of mutual respect between us, other organizations, other performers and then being funny from time to time, I think we're in a good spot,” Frye said.
Reflecting on his time as a leader of The Comedy Conglomerate, Frye said that he’s always had an interest in comedy, but he didn’t have opportunities for a creative outlet in his hometown. Once he arrived at Virginia Tech, Frye was able to start his own creative outlet through The Comedy Conglomerate.
“None of anything we do is meant to ever be malicious,” Frye said. “We actually go through extensive procedures, like vetting material, having rehearsals to make sure that no material is meant to be harmful in any sort of way to anyone's beliefs or who they are. We try to make sure that everyone in the room will be able to laugh at the jokes that we tell on stage.”
Frye said that the idea of the club spurred from the name itself — The Comedy Conglomerate. In the process of forming the club, Frye and other founding members found that the alliteration of “comedy conglomerate” would work well for their club. An original member of the club, Michael Carballo, a sophomore majoring in history, said that the word “conglomerate” would represent the different forms of comedy that the organization would welcome.
“The main message that I think we're trying to send from the club is that we're just people who want to bring people together and laugh,” Jagdhari said.