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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Maryland chapter.

Maryland Night Live, a UMD rendition of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, gives the original SNL a run for its money. The performance, which took place November 18th, 2019 in Stamp’s Hoff Theater, featured a diverse and extremely talented cast of student comedians and musicians. The live show concluded the group’s third season, and as host Joey Barber claims, it was “their edgiest performance yet”. 

The sketches were primarily focused around well known UMD incidents and current political topics, making them very appealing and relatable to Maryland students. For example, the opening sketch was a quiz game show where three contestants had to answer Maryland based trivia. One of the contestants, however, was a portrayal of UMD’s President Wallace Loh. While the other two contestants received generally easy trivia, the student portraying Loh was grilled with hilariously difficult questions regarding things like campus construction, food poisonings, and the unfinished stadium.

Maryland Night Live recreated many iconic aspects from SNL, such as the use of musical guests and an opening monologue. However, the production added their own flair to the show by including acts of individual stand-up. 

Musical guest Benny Roman performing an original song. Photo by: Madeline Herron

Although the comedy industry is typically dominated by men, MNL featured two hilarious sets of stand-up performed by female comedians, Sara Nahusenay and Rachel Niswander. The strong women delivering their unforgettable solo acts is what truly brought the performance to the next level.  

Rachel Niswander, a sophomore aerospace engineering major, delivered an upbeat set of stand-up filled with impressions of Ariana Grande, Pitbull, Shakira, and a shockingly spot-on Owen Wilson. Niswander was not afraid to go bold with her act and left the audience in a roar of laughter.

“There should be more women in comedy,” says Niswander. “As a STEM major I deal with being a minority as a woman every day, so I think we should encourage more women to be confident and go out there and do it.”

The second female stand-up act of the night was performed by junior Sara Nahusenay. Her act portrayed a more sophisticated yet striking tone, where she poked fun at sites such as Tik Tok and Omegle. After the show, Nahusenay elaborated on what the group dynamic was like for the women at MNL.

Sara Nahusenay performing her stand up comedy set. Photo by: Madeline Herron

“During the entire writing process, [the writers] try and make it so that no one is excluded,” Nahusenay states. “For example, if there’s any sketch that is written from a female perspective but is written by a male, they’ll always make sure to ask the female writers ‘is this accurate? Do you feel like this is turning you into a caricature?’” 

“I don’t want to generalize, but I think a lot of times girls tend to be a lot more self-critical and judgmental towards themselves,” Nahusenay points out. “They think, ‘if I’m not good the first time I do it, that means I suck,’ and no that’s not the case, keep doing it and you will get better.”

Bardia Memar (left), Sara Comaromi (middle), and Devon Rafanelli (right) performing a hospital sketch. Photo by: Madeline Herron

The show is still fairly new, debuting in the Spring of 2019, however, the group has already established a productive and inclusive foundation. “We have a constant rotation of talent,” says cast member Bardia Memar, “what makes MNL stand out is that we like to synthesize what we consider to be the funniest minds on the campus, regardless of whether they’re in another group or not.” 

Overall, Maryland Night Live is an absolute hit with a very bright future. The comedy, production value, music, and welcoming environment are clearly organized with care and passion, ultimately creating a fantastic show.  

Madeline Herron

Maryland '23

18 year old college freshman originally from Fairfield, CT who is majoring in journalism and loves to write!