UB sought comedy instead of music for Family Weekend

Megan Ivey, Verge Editor

Escalating entertainment prices and conflicting schedules lead to University Board’s decision to have a comedy act come for Family Weekend.

Sinbad, a well-known stand-up comedian who broke out in the 90s, will be preforming at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Lantz Arena.

Tickets priced at $21 can be purchased at the ticket office in the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

Cecilia Brinker, the director of student life, said Sinbad was chosen as the performer because he fit the demands of the complex selection process.

“We wanted to find a performer to fit all needs,” she said. “Sinbad was right in the middle of affordability and high quality.”

Brinker said a challenging factor was finding a performer with the rising cost of entertainers.

“On average, it costs anywhere from $50,000 to $70,000,” she said. “We had to look at prices ranging from $75,000 to $85,000.”

In addition to the rise of entertainment costs, Brinker said the budget and enrollment issues contributed to the difficulty of selecting an act.

“It made the process that much more challenging,” she said.

Brinker said the process began in the late spring, where 10 to 15 possible performers were under review.

The list of potential performers for Family Weekend included comedians such as Kevin James, Larry the Cable Guy and Jim Gaffigan, along with musical artists such as the Doobie Brothers and Earth Wind and Fire.

The list narrowed after availability was looked at.

“Several fell outside of our price range,” Brinker said. “And some of the front runners fell from availability.”

Despite money being a key factor in the decision process, Brinker said choosing a comedy act was not necessarily for affordability, but rather to provide variety of the types of performances for Family Weekend.

“Some (comedians) cost the same or more than a musical performance,” she said. “Sinbad was a win-win, giving diversity with comedy but being comfortably in budget.”

Brinker said Sinbad offered family-related comedy and has consistently done well with audiences.

“His humor has a good deal of pretty funny everyday family life,” she said. “He knows how to relate and appeal to families.”

Brinker said ticket sales have totaled to 1,100 thus far, nearly 1,400 tickets short of last year’s 2,503 total for the band Cheap Trick.

Brinker said the pace of ticket sales have changed throughout the three to four week selling period.

“Sales were brisk at first, then slowed, and have now picked back up,” She said. “We are selling 100 or more tickets a day now.”

Tickets will be available up until show time Saturday at the Lantz Arena.

Brinker said she is optimistic that tickets will continue selling as parents come to visit and plan their weekend schedules.

“We are starting to get calls with parents frantically asking ‘Are tickets sold out yet? Can I still purchase them?’” she said.

Family Weekend has not had a comedian since Bill Engvall came in 2008.

Comedians Jeff Foxworthy and Bill Cosby have also previously performed at Eastern.

Brinker said Eastern has had “a good track record” with comedians as Family Weekend performers.

“Bill Cosby has been to Eastern three times,” she said. “He now costs six figures, however.”

 Megan Ivey can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].