Student Spotlight with Tom Maier

DUNDER MIFFLIN: A junior from Scranton, Pa., Tom Maier is a member of Simply Chaos, Penn’s only stand-up comedy group, which has around a dozen members. Undeclared but leaning toward a major in economics, Maier has been involved with Simply Chaos since his sophomore year.

FUNNY, YOU SHOULD SAY THAT: Maier says he has been a huge fan of stand-up comedy since he was a child, and wanted to be a comedian as soon as he found out it was an actual job. He says Demetri Martin was the first comedian he found compelling because of Martin’s life story: Martin graduated from Yale and attended NYU School of Law before dropping out to pursue comedy. “That’s the most inspiring thing,” Maier says, “and it worked out for him. Just the story of it is amazing to me.”

IS THIS THING ON?: Maier’s first time performing on stage was during a “weird open mic” in the Riepe College House study lounge. “People left because they were studying and then an open mic starting happening,” he says. “There were like eight people in the crowd and two of them were professors who were like 70. I did OK, but it was probably mostly pity at that point because it was just an awkward room.” He has since performed—in front of larger audiences—at charity shows and other events on campus, and at open mics around the city.

HIM ON JOKES: It can take Maier up to three months to write five minutes worth of material, depending on how often he writes. “Sometimes I won’t write a joke for a month and I’ll feel terrible, and then sometimes I’ll write three in one week,” he says. He tests his jokes out on fellow Simply Chaos comedians before performing them on stage. “It’s a great environment because everyone in the group knows good comedy and knows when stuff isn’t going to work, more or less,” he says.

YOU GUYS HAVE BEEN GREAT: Maier says there is no better way to have more fun in five minutes than performing a well-received set. “It’s really cool to see something you materialize out of nowhere and transmit to people and have them like it,” he says.

MEET THE PARENTS: Maier says his parents are supportive of his comedic pursuits. “My dad always badgers me to tell him jokes now,” he says. “I have jokes about him so I don’t do those for him. I told them to my mom, though, because she was badgering me and she loved it.”

LAUGH-IN: Still contemplating what he wants to do after he graduates, Maier says he wouldn’t mind following in the footsteps of Josh Rabinowitz, a Penn alumnus and former Simply Chaos member who is now the head writer, executive producer, cast member, and creator of “Friends of the People,” a sketch comedy show on truTV. “That’d be awesome,” Maier says.

Tom Maier