Playwright Christopher Fry once said that “comedy is an escape, not from truth, but from despair.” MU sophomore Dillon Cassidy believes in the same philosophy: brightening people’s days through comedy.
“I really like making people laugh,” Cassidy said. “I think it’s such a good feeling, because when you make someone laugh it makes people forget about what’s bothering them. It’s a nice thing to be able to give someone else that moment of reprieve from life and its hardships.”
A theater major, Cassidy has enjoyed comedy his whole life, but it wasn’t until last year when he developed a fondness for performing his own.
“It was always something I wanted to do,” he said. “I had been writing for a while, keeping track of ideas. It took a while to get the courage to get up there and perform.”
Cassidy’s dream is to perform at Second City in Chicago, but for now he performs every other Tuesday at Eastside Tavern. Cassidy has also performed at Déjà Vu Comedy Club in the past. In spring 2012, Cassidy hopes to participate in Second City’s Comedy Studies, where he will get college credit for perfecting his comedy skills.
Cassidy credits 2010 MU graduate Daniel Shar for helping him get started in stand-up. Shar, a graduate of Comedy Studies, met Cassidy when they were both members of MU Improv. There, Shar learned Cassidy was interested in trying stand-up, so he encouraged him to perform. Cassidy joined Shar onstage at a local comedy club.
“I think I just encouraged him to give it a shot, if it was something he wanted to do and assured him that he would live even if it wasn’t a success,” Shar said. “One of the major things I took away from the Comedy Studies program was the importance of conquering my fear of failure. “
Now a core member of MU Improv, Cassidy helped bring the comedy group to its first tournament. As part of a competition with Chicago Improv, MU Improv competed in its regionals in Kansas City. He hopes to keep competing and eventually move on in the tournaments.
Cassidy has received much support from his family and friends, but his biggest fan, he says, is his best friend Mark Walsh, who has been to more of Cassidy’s shows that anybody. Cassidy has known Walsh, who is also a comedian, since he came to MU.
“I think it's very important to have friends, like myself, that are also comedians,” Walsh said. “Dillon will come to me with joke or sketch ideas, and I am able to say what works.”
Dillon is affable and passionate about comedy—two qualities that are not always easy to come by in the comedy world, Shar said.
“The worst that can happen when you try something like stand-up is you realize it’s not for you and you move on with your life,” Shar said. “The best case scenario is that the whole direction of your life changes for the better.”