No joke: Flaherty ’08 could be top comic

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Friday, April 18, 2008

It doesn’t take much for Tom Flaherty ’08 to start up a conversation with you. The same can be said about him making you laugh.

Flaherty was named the runner-up at RooftopComedy.com’s regional competition held in Boston’s Comedy Connection comedy club on April 8.

The regional competition consisted of Brown’s eight-person team, chosen at a campus competition in March, going head-to-head with Emerson College’s comedy team to produce one finalist who would then have a chance at winning one of four national finalist spots.

The regional finalist for the night was Emerson’s Jordan Clifford, but Flaherty still has a chance to advance to the national competition in Aspen, Colorado, on May 30-31, if enough people vote for him on the RooftopComedy Web site before Sunday.

“The more people I can make laugh, the better,” Flaherty said. “If I could do anything I wanted that would also make me money, it would be comedy.”

Flaherty was born in Kingston, England, but considers himself a Hong Kong native. He still sports a British accent, which is something one of the other comedians on Brown’s RooftopComedy.com team said helps him out.

“His accent adds an air of novelty to his performance,” said Billy Doyle ’09, also a member of the Brown Stand-Up Comedy club and the creator of the Facebook event “Vote for Tom for Funniest College Comedian!”

Flaherty started doing stand-up comedy this year when he and a friend decided to audition for the Brown Stand-Up Comedy club.

“Most of my material comes from everyday observations,” he said. His comedic style is through storytelling.

But Doyle claims Flaherty’s biggest asset as a comedian is his confidence.

“He is someone who is extremely confident performing in front of people,” Doyle said.

This confidence transcends into other things he is involved with on campus as well.

“I’m a tour guide and I love it. It’s me talking for 50 minutes,” Flaherty said.

Though he has a large enough audience on the tours to test out some material, he said he sticks to the usual tour guide jokes instead.

“I keep it clean,” he said, explaining how his material can sometimes be rude. “I don’t think I’m a mean person, but that’s just the kind of comedy I do.”

His girlfriend, Zoe Chao ’08, said she always asks Tom if she can show her mother video clips of his performances, and the answer is always no for the same reason.

“Sometimes I wonder whether some of his jokes would be funny if he didn’t curse as much,” she said, trying to imitate his accent.

Flaherty will graduate from Brown having concentrated in religious studies, though he is pre-med. He eventually wants to become a doctor – though he doesn’t know what kind – and will be attending medical school in New York City through a program much like the Program in Liberal Medical Education.

“Sometime I joke that I want to be a proctologist,” he said, adding that a proctologist is a doctor that studies “assholes.”

Flaherty is very chatty, bantering away, so he often talks straight through his jokes, not even realizing he’s making them.

“After you meet Tom, it’s not a surprise that he does stand-up comedy,” Chao said. “He’s a natural performer.”