January 9, 2017
Topic: Campus News
What do you get when you cross stuffed unicorns and recreational athletes? You get Andy Boehnlein, The Second City alumnus and coordinator of intramural sports at the University of Michigan.
From practicing comedy on the same stage as legends such as Tina Fey, Jim Belushi and Stephen Colbert to studying sports management at the University of Akron, his journey to Michigan really began at his undergraduate alma mater, the University of Dayton.
Boehnlein began working with intramural sports his sophomore year almost by coincidence. His instructor offered extra credit to anyone who memorized the flag football rulebook, and he took up the challenge. He never received the extra credit, but he impressed the instructor so much he was offered a job in recreational sports instead. This experience helped him get an internship at U-M's intramural program the winter before he began work on his master's degree.
After graduating from Akron in 2014, Boehnlein returned to Michigan as the coordinator of intramural sports. He schedules brackets of seasonal sports and monthly weekend tournaments for less-popular sports, keeps daily intramural logistics running smoothly, and is constantly preparing for the next season. His favorite part of the job is working with students, and he gets plenty of that. Intramural sports regularly has 9,700 unique participants including the 200 student officials he trains.
Andy Boehnlein, a Second City alumnus and U-M coordinator of intramural sports, has been invited to speak at conferences along with his comedic siekick, Ulysses, a stuffed unicorn.
His comedy really comes into play when he trains the referees. At the beginning of every sport season, he hosts a weeklong training session where he incudes humor as a way to keep students engaged and because, like comedy, referees and supervisors are required to react to their audience. That's also partially why he likes comedy.
"Humor in itself has the ability to bring people together," he said.
Just like intramural sports, Boehnlein stumbled upon comedy as an undergrad. At the beginning of his senior year, his friend dared him to try stand-up at his college's variety show. He liked it so much that he continued the rest of the year, and when the same friend asked him to apply to The Second City with her, he applied on a whim, never expecting to get in. However, he was soon accepted, and in a whirlwind of a year he went from a being a comedy novice to a student at one of the most elite comedy schools in the world.
"Comedy found me," he said.
Studying at The Second City was "like going to school with 30 class clowns." He learned everything from writing, clowning and improv to why comedy clubs are so cold and the seats so close. From toiling to get word inflections just right to dissecting jokes to figure out why they're funny, Boehnlein particularly likes the intellectual side of comedy.
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His longest-lasting stand-up persona, Demotivational Speaker George Scott Baker, was born at The Second City. George made his cameo appearance with only two lines in a skit. It was during grad school at Akron that Boehnlein fleshed out George and developed a presentation on leadership around the question, "Why be perfect if you can be average?"
"Being average isn't really what you think being average is, and perfection just isn't attainable. And that's okay!" he said.
George has been invited to speak at conferences, along with his stuffed unicorn, Ulysses. Boehnlein said he chose Ulysses because unicorns are just as imaginary as perfection. He employs other stuffed friends like Elvis the monkey to be his critics as he practices delivering jokes and presentations.
So, whether he's on the stage or on the field, delivering jokes or delivering jerseys, Boehnlein's philosophy is simple: "My work revolves around trying to put a smile on people's faces as often as possible."