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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Originally from Minnesota, Jenny Zigrino started performing at clubs around Boston while attending college before moving out west. 

Carly Aquilino, Jenny Zigrino set to electrify Union Theater

Carly Aquilino’s first time on stage was short-lived: at her first ballet recital, when the curtains rose, Aquilino promptly jumped off stage. When her mother asked why, she said that she didn’t want people to look at her.

“It’s kind of ironic now that that’s what I do,” Aquilino said, referring to her current job as one of the many women on MTV’s “Girl Code.” While she remembers the former torment of stage fright, Aquilino is a confident, cheeky performer who will take the stage at the Wisconsin Union Wednesday.

Jenny Zigrino, a comic from Los Angeles, by way of Minnesota, will join Aquilino at the performance. Zigrino, the daughter of a wannabe Russian actress, has been performing on and off over the last 12 years. After seeing her first comedy show at 15, Zigrino knew she had found her calling. 

“I watched a few specials... and I fell in love,” Zigrino said.

This will be the first time Aquilino performs in Madison, and Zigrino is returning after a performance in Madison last June.

While Zigrino was studying at art school in Boston, Aquilino got her cosmetology license—Aquilino said that this continued her track record of crazy hair styles and colors. Aquilino worked at a salon throughout the first two seasons of “Girl Code,” a decision she affirms to this day as a good idea. 

“I knew the show was really successful, but I didn’t want to stop working,” Aquilino said. “I was really paranoid about it, but I kept my job. People would come in and say, ‘are you on TV?’” 

Unlike her fellow comedian, Zigrino said, speaking from her own experience, “don’t have a plan B” when going into comedy.

“If you’re going to do this, do it 100 percent. You’re going to sacrifice a lot of parties... and it’s going to feel lonely at times, but if you really want it, you’ll do it.”

Since their early days in comedy, both have hit their stride. Zigrino recently recorded her first comedy album at Comedy on State, a June 2015 comedy festival in Madison, Wis. While she's excited to take a break for a bit, Zigrino said that the one hour special was a compilation of over seven years of material. Aquilino is now in her fourth season of MTV's "Girl Code," and recently helped host the VMA pre-coverage for MTV. She also is working on "Girl Code Live," a more improvisational take on the original show.

Aquilino went into great detail about the writing process for “Girl Code,” including that she usually writes about half of her material for the set topics before and leaves the rest to the heat of the moment.

“What comes off the top of your head seems more natural, more silly,” Aquilino said. “I love those parts of ‘Girl Code’ when one of us breaks out laughing, ‘cause its funny [that way.]”

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Both Aquilino and Zigrino noted that there's some leg work that comedians must do when preparing for performing at either a college campus or at a club. 

“On one hand, yeah, I do think that college students can be a little too sensitive, and I’m 28, so I get it,” Zigrino said. While she doesn’t mind tweaking her set to certain specifications, Zigrino continued, “As you get older, you get beaten down by the world, so you just don’t care any more.”

Aquilino did give pause and note that because of the contrast in atmosphere, it should be expected that certain audiences will take the material differently.

“I don’t change my material for college,” Aquilino said. “I think everyone going to the show is to see your stand-up, [and] if someone doesn’t like it, comedy is subjective. Not everyone is going to like the same things.”

Aquilino gave some advice for aspiring comics: get experience.

“It’s definitely nerve-racking at first, and it’ll be a lot of failing before you succeed,” Aquilino said. “Anytime that you bomb you’ll get better.... Everyone at open mic is a beginner... don’t be afraid or ashamed, ‘cause everyone else is in their own head as well.”

When talking about how her comedy is a form of therapy for her body issues, Zigrino tore into Nicole Arbour, a YouTube personality who recently posted a widely panned video titled “Dear Fat People.” The video consisted of Arbour attempting to fat-shame overweight and obese people into losing weight, and has since been removed from YouTube.

Zigrino noted that some of Arbour’s supporters have claimed that Arbour is being censored for her views, which Zigrino said was smoke and mirrors. 

“That’s fine, freedom of speech, they can do whatever they want. But as a public figure you should say good things, be an empowering person instead of [tearing] people down,” Zigrino said.

Calling her a hack, and that she would face a tough crowd at any comedy club, Zigrino faulted Arbour for using YouTube as her primary platform for her form of comedy.

“I feel like with YouTube she was able to sidestep the actual stand-up comedian... world that I exist in and goes into this quick rise to game,” Zigrino said. 

“You still need to be funny to be called a comedian.”

Luckily, Zigrino and Aquilino both possess that innate ability to light up a room, and will undoubtedly electrify the Union.

Jenny Zigrino and Carly Aquilino will perform at the Wisconsin Union Theater Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 for students and are still available. 

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