Comedian’s performance entertains attendees at Department of Design pop-up show

A comedian standing at the front of a small classroom with a microphone is not what attendees expected to see on Monday, Jan. 28, at the Department of Design’s pop-up show.

Vance Sanders, an adjunct professor in the Department of Design at APU, stole the first 20 minutes of the Department of Design’s student work exhibition without mentioning any computer design terminology. Instead, he entertained the crowd with a stand up comedy routine that included a joke about the tendency of Trader Joe’s employees calling customers “boss” or “chief.”

In order to better promote the department, Becky Roe, interim chair in the Department of Design, hoped to incorporate a joyful and humorous tone into the pop-up show. Roe wanted the mood of the event to feel like a party rather than a professional presentation.

It is with this idea in mind that she invited Sanders to perform.

“I’ve known Vance for a long time …  … more than twenty years,” Roe said. “When I needed some adjunct design faculty I brought Vance along. When I asked him to come teach some classes here I knew he was a comedian and I figured heck, why not let him perform?”

Alongside his teaching career at APU, Sanders organizes a comedy show known as BARK!, which takes place in the south Pasadena area on Wednesdays. Throughout his almost 30-year-long career as a comedian, Vance received the opportunity to run several comedy rooms and clubs alongside some of the best the comedy industry has to offer.

“I perform stand up about two to three times a week,” Sanders said. “I ran a room for 20 years that a lot of very famous people got their start in, such as Zach Galifianakis, Chris Hardwick and others. And if you do it long enough, you start getting to know everybody.”

Sanders’ comedy efforts are strictly voluntary. They do not provide him with a sufficient income. He gets his salary from his teaching job. With a bachelor’s degree in advertising design from the University of Oklahoma, Sanders has been an art director for multiple design groups and agencies in California.

With an extensive resume in design, he hopes that integrating his knowledge into his curriculum will help him grow as an educator. As of right now, his strongest passion remains making people laugh.

Prior to last year, the Department of Design was connected to the Department of Art. After the two departments became independent, Roe said the department wanted to develop shows that not only exhibited student’s work but also included guest speakers.

Design students appreciated their department’s efforts to organize a display that showcased their work in a creative and entertaining manner.

Sabrina Baker, a senior design major and the curator of the pop-up event, feels the experience she gained from organizing the event will be beneficial in her future career.  

“I’ve been in between the idea of curating and being a designer for a long time,” Baker said. “So for this show, Becky gave me the opportunity to create the branding while also organizing the designs, meaning I got to practice and go deep into both. It’s been such a fun experience for me.”

The department plans to host four more pop-up shows by the end of the semester, although the dates for these shows are currently unavailable. The department hopes these kinds of entertaining events will promote growth.

“This is for the students and to promote their work,” Roe said. “Although this is most likely the only one with a comedian, the students have worked really hard to set up more pop-up events, and the department is super excited about the efforts.”