Senior Lukey Walden will be graduating in just a week and a half, and as they prepare for life after college, they are making sure that their monthly comedy open mic show, Sun Butter, continues its momentum. Rising junior Julia Greene will take over the show next year, and Walden has been reflecting on the last two years since Sun Butter’s inception.
Growing up with four older brothers, two of who are comedians, comedy has been a formative influence in Walden’s life from an early age. “When I was younger, I found that if you can make people laugh they stop picking on you,” they said with a chuckle. In addition to creating Sun Butter and performing standup, Walden is also a member of TWIT, CC’s student improv group. Walden originally formed the idea for Sun Butter after they spent the summer of 2015 in New York doing comedy, and the following fall, they got to work.
“I knew I wanted to keep doing standup and I saw there was room for it on campus,” said Walden. “There’s usually only one improv group [on college campuses] and comedy can feel inaccessible to people who don’t make it in.”
The name itself, Sun Butter, does not hold any sort of hidden meaning. “I needed a name and didn’t want to overthink,” they said. “And there was Sun Butter in my apartment’s fridge.”
Walden went through Theatre Workshop to organize the show, a group whose members they describe as “some of the best, most supportive people on campus.” Because they required no funding and could use Taylor Theatre with little hassle, Walden’s vision quickly became a reality. The hardest part was getting people to participate.
“First semester and a half were tough because I had to really really bother people to perform,” they said. “There weren’t people doing standup, and people didn’t feel empowered to come without being really prepared. “
Walden originally created Sun Butter Comedy Open Mic under the name Sun Butter Variety Hour. It was made up of improv, sketch comedy, and standup, but has become more of an open mic standup show this year with some improv at the end. Regardless of the change in format, Walden stresses that it is the community that makes Sun Butter so special; both the performers and the people who come to watch.
“There’s people from all sorts of walks of life—freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors—it’s just really really cool,” they said. “I just wanted to be clear that everybody could perform. It’s meant a lot to me personally that people come every month, especially as audience members.” For anyone thinking about performing at Sun Butter, they remarked that “Once you do standup for the first time everything becomes less scary.”
But for Walden, standup has become a space in no way defined by fear. “I came out as trans and nonbinary last year,” they said. “That’s when I really started putting time into standup. It became a way for me to make space for myself. I can be pretty confrontational about things that you couldn’t be confrontational with normal cis people in conversation, especially strangers. To be able to win people over like that is very very empowering. To be able to be so queer and weird on stage and have people celebrate that is awesome.”
A studio art major, Walden plans on pursuing both comedy and art. In regard to leaving Sun Butter behind, they expressed an overall feeling of gratitude. “Thanks to everyone who has performed and everyone who came,” they said. “I’m really glad it will be existing moving forward; That there will always be a space for people to empower themselves with dumb shit.”