The crowd has decided, and your winner is…Jeremy Ullman!” Fresh-faced 21-year-old McGill student Jeremy Ullman is the victor of the Comedy Nest’s open mic night. It is an odd time and place for a comedy show—it is Wednesday night, Nov. 23, the bar is bizarrely located on the third floor of the Montreal Forum, and there are no more than twenty people in the audience. Nonetheless, Ullman is overjoyed. The evening’s theme was “Little Known Emotions,” and Ullman’s quip, “I was eating cauliflower and melon last night, it gave me a strange feeling I can only identify as melon-cauliflower,” won him $20, and validation for his years of practice. With two years of stand-up experience, U3 Cognitive Science major Jeremy Ullman is a long-time comedy fan and self-identified class clown.
“It’s an amalgamation of five beautifully connected fields, philosophy, linguistics, computer science, neuroscience, and psychology,” explained Ullman.
Amalgamation is a fitting word to describe Ullman himself. He is a practicing comedian, with a passion for guitar and “Instrumental Progressive Metal” music. He also coaches rowing at Dawson College and tutors CEGEP students in calculus.
“I also rap as a joke, because privileged white Jewish boys should not be doing that,” he joked.
Even in his hobbies, he has a sense of humour. A comedian, musician, athlete, and academic, Ullman’s interests span from the creative to the intellectual.
“That’s my biggest issue,” Ullman explained. “I’m good at a bunch of things, but I’d like to be an expert in one.”
Ullman incorporates physicality and academia into his act. Ullman is very aware of his stage presence and—inspired by his idol, comedian Brian Regan—makes use of pantomimic facial expressions and hand gestures. Introduced at the Comedy Nest as “one of the long-lost Romney sons,” Ullman moves like Mitt in a way that is jovial yet somewhat contrived. His comedy is also very cerebral; Ullman has a penchant for clever wordplay. His first ever stand-up joke was a fake set-up about working two jobs: “The first job, I had I was working at a colonoscopy clinic. The second job I had, I was working at the Brick. And I realized, that in both jobs I was arranging stool samples.”
Still a young comic, Ullman is working to evolve his routine; a process he compares to excavation.
“The deeper you dig, the denser your material becomes,” he explained. Growing up, Ullman’s siblings called him “Ailment Boy”—he was plagued with illnesses ranging from migraines and allergies to lactose intolerance—and laughter proved to be a useful coping mechanism. He aims to find humour in daily observation.
“I need to be in the world because sitting in your bedroom isn’t funny, but the world is hilarious,” he said. “So, just traversing through [the world], that’s when you pick up things like a magnet. I find it fun to look outwards.”
While comedians often portray themselves as notoriously lazy, Ullman is a very disciplined stand-up. Comedy is a surprising lesson in time management, as it entails balancing a part-time job, musical hobbies, a rigorous academic workload, and stand-up shows.
Regardless of whether he decides to pursue comedy professionally, it is a passion that has taught him a lot.
“You learn a lot about yourself from standing on stage. You say a joke, and then nobody laughs, and you’re like, ‘Ha, I’m alive still.’”