Josh Harris ’10: Making a Living by Making Laughs

Josh Harris '10

Josh Harris ’10

After being featured in the Carillon magazine last winter, Josh Harris ’10 has made major strides in his career as a comedian. He launched his own website and shares his love of comedy by teaching stand-up comedy classes at yourACT Acting Studios in Decatur, Ga.

While continuing to do live stand-up, Josh has shifted from being on stage to being on screen. This transition came after Josh realized that writing and producing are equally important components of comedy as performing. As a result, he’s created a series of comedy videos to test his new interests.

One video was taped on the Oglethorpe campus in the Dorough gym. The video is based on “The Brand Expanders,” one of Josh’s regular sketch comedy routines that centers around a pair of marketing men who pitch crazy ideas to famous figures. In the video shot on campus, Darth Vader is promoting his own sports drink called Vaderade. Check out the video to see what happens!

Josh attributes the success of the video shoot to the numerous students and alumni who came out to volunteer as extras and to support his endeavor. This connection with students (along with a sweet alumni deal offered by OU’s special events department to use the space!) made for a rewarding and progressive experience in Josh’s career. His comedy videos are now showcased at Sketchworks in Decatur where they’re some of the most requested sketches at the theater.

The OU community can support Josh Harris by attending one of his many stand-up performances or by taking his stand-up comedy class at yourACT. Even if you aren’t a comedian, Josh says that the experience of being on stage also improves public speaking skills and boosts confidence. Now who wouldn’t want that?

“I really love not only performing stand-up, but there’s something about having your own vision and putting it on paper. Just having a crazy concept and then seeing it, bringing it to life…now that’s really something I enjoy doing.”  

Oglethorpe’s Honors Program: A Worthwhile Challenge

Lindsey Mitchell presents her Honors thesis at the Liberal Arts & Sciences Symposium.

As Commencement approaches, there is something I can’t stop thinking about: the moment when I will walk on stage and be “hooded” in front of hundreds of spectators. This simple act signifies and rewards numerous hours of research, writing and editing, all done in the name of a thesis for the Honors Program. In spite of all the time and dedication the process has required, every time I look at my 49-page thesis, I know that the work has been worth it.

The Honors Program is an opportunity for students to further challenge themselves intellectually, both within and beyond the classroom setting. Honors students participate in several cross-disciplinary classes, forging closer relations with peers and faculty from various disciplines who share a common enthusiasm for learning, while developing their own interests and initiative.

“The thesis-building years are not for the faint of heart!” says fellow Honors student Lindsey Mitchell ’13. “The level of research and writing that is required is excellent practice for students who are interested in pursuing higher stages of academia, and therefore it is very rigorous.”

“The skills you get are pretty amazing,” adds Jef Palframan ’13. “You get to do your own thing… plus, you get to work one-on-one with three PhDs who have something to do with your field.”

Samantha Flynn presents during the 2013 Liberal Arts & Sciences Symposium.

“(The program) allowed me to bridge different fields of interest (political science, political theory, and political philosophy) to answer a question that is important to me,” said Samantha Flynn ’13. “I plan to expand this thesis into a book after graduation.”

Samantha’s thesis, “Invocatio Dei: The Competing Roles of Religion and Secularization in the Polarization of American Political Culture,” was inspired by the question, “What is the cause of the venom in party politics today?”. The answer, she argues, is found in the role Christianity plays in American politics.

“I specifically focus on the evolution of the modern Left, from its origins in Massachusetts Bay Puritanism, through Progressivism, and into modern liberalism,” she explains. “I contrast American secularization (which I argue is actually not happening) with European secularization, and reject modern theorists’ interpretations of why secularism happens with a return to Tocqueville.”

Jef’s thesis, “Lifting the Veil of Violence: The October Crisis, 1970” looks at “an event that changed the concept of sovereignty in Quebec.”

Jef Palframan '13

“There are two sides (to the crisis), but if you break the violence down, there’s more than English versus French,” he says. “We’re not against violence as long as that violence is used in the means of the state. When that violence goes against norms, we shy away from it.”

Lindsey’s thesis, “Discovering the Paths and Effects of Time Travel through Science Fiction,” has both academic and creative components.

“The creative portion is about two men who travel to a nearby section of the universe to photograph the way a certain cluster of stars looks in current time,” said Lindsey. “Eventually, the fatalistic nature of time travel catches up to them, (and) the two men are forced to abandon their missions and society, traveling forever forward in time until it is safe for them to return to the Earth. The academic portion is a series of essays attempting to explain the choices I have made within the research available to me. I represent certain areas of thought in the short stories, and the essays are my way of defending and breaking down the difficult theories so that they are understandable to someone who has not spent months researching as I have.”

Here I am presenting my Honors thesis at the Symposium!

My own thesis, “Horror-Comedy: The Chaotic Spectrum and Cinematic Synthesis,” debunks the idea that comedy and horror are disparate genres. By looking at common reactions, plots, and characters in movies, I’ve come to conclude that horror and comedy lie on a spectrum that consists of how threatening, plausible, and likable the characters, monster, and plot are. The Honors Program has added to my Oglethorpe experience in some astounding ways, and it is my hope that other students will participate in the future.

“The Honors Program is an excellent opportunity for someone who wants to dive into a wide variety of specialized topics that are not usually offered as full-length courses,” said Lindsey. “I would say anyone who has a passion for the process of learning would be an excellent candidate.”

Did any of these topics interest you? If so, look for them in the upcoming Oglethorpe Journal of Undergraduate Research. Thanks to all of the committee members who have helped these theses form!

Lights! Camera! Campus MovieFest!

A five minute film is not easy to create, but according to the winners of Oglethorpe’s Campus MovieFest competition, those five minutes of film are worth all of the time and energy put into making them.

“This is my life,” said Christian Hartnett ’14, director of the Best Comedy winner, The Screenplay. “Videos, editing, everything that goes into film. That is what gives me purpose… this (competition) was something I really had to do.”

Campus MovieFest is the world’s largest student film festival and a premier outlet for the next generation of filmmakers. Oglethorpe’s Offices of Campus Life and and Student Government Association were integral in bringing the competition to OU, which began on January 23 and lasted barely a week. During this time, students were supplied with tripods, camcorders, and computers that were essential in bringing their movies to life. Then, after countless hours of writing, acting, filming and editing, students submitted their five-minute movies to CMF officials.

Best Picture director Hillary Heath '13 and writer Weatherly Richardson '13.

“It was a lot of fun and I think we learned a lot from the experience,” said theatre major Hillary Heath ’13, who directed the Best Picture winner, Getting Brain. “I’ve never shot a film before, (and) it was interesting to switch from theatre to film… I hope OU keeps doing this.”

On Thursday, February 7, 16 teams had the unique opportunity to screen their films in front of their peers. The overall winners (Trinity Pond Productions for Untitled Love Story, the Best Drama winner; Team Awesomesauce for The Screenplay, winner for Best Comedy; and Doing Stuff Badly for Getting Brain, Best Picture) are moving on to the next round, Hollywood!, where they will compete with winners from other colleges and universities around the country.

Best Comedy Director Christian Hartnett '14

“All of a sudden, my movie pops up, and I jumped three feet in the air,” said Christian. “All the hard work was worth it.”

The competition has had a tremendous impact on its winners, who are grateful for the experience and for those who offered help along the way.

“(Adjunct professor) David Patterson taught me everything I know,” said Christian. “He’s a great mentor.” Weatherly Richardson ’13, the writer of Getting Brain, similarly credited adjunct faculty Jessica Handler and her screenwriting class, which introduced her to the idea of professionally pursuing film.

“(Hillary and I) started our own production company and we’ve been wanting to do these films for a while,” said Weatherly.  “I found out we’d won on Twitter, because I had to work. We kind of weren’t expecting this at all.” 

All of the competitors interviewed expressed a desire to produce more films in the future and I, for one, am excited to see them. Congratulations to our winners, and best of luck in Hollywood!

Watch all Oglethorpe students’ film entries here!