Sophomore McKenna Futrell gained a large fan base on campus after performing her original poetry and comedy at Campus Activities Board’s open mic nights. According to Futrell, she started doing her act after she wrote poetry for her social club Delta Nu’s Anti-Valentine’s Day function in the spring. She performed it at the function and received a very positive response. The next day, she saw CAB’s sign-up sheet for the first open mic night and was dared by a friend to sign up. Despite being nervous, she signed up to perform.
After her performance at open mic night, Director of CAB Logan Light approached her, encouraging her to perform again, according to Futrell.
“Had it not been for that interaction, I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to continue,” Futrell said.
Later on in the semester, she was hired by Light to work for CAB, an opportunity she attributed to her success at the open mic performances. Much of her comedy revolved around B-list celebrities, well-known people at Harding and parodies of fan fiction.
“B-list celebrities are frequently eccentric and quirky people, which always makes for a great story,” Futrell said. “I am fascinated by the fact that these people who are not very talented can often take themselves so seriously, which is a character trait that I enjoy taking advantage of.”
According to sophomore Katie Akin, a close friend of Futrell’s, the most appealing aspect of her performances was how little pretense Futrell had. Junior Dakota Wilson added that he appreciated the ease with which she seemed to entertain people.
“She just writes the first thing that comes to her,” Wilson said. “Her act is just so natural.”
Futrell said that although she created this specific type of comedic performance once at Harding, she always loved creative writing, even making up stories about her friends in elementary and middle school.
According to Akin, Futrell’s comedy was not something she kept reserved for public performances, but it was revealed in other areas of her life as well.
“[McKenna] definitely embodies a hilarious persona at all times,” Akin said.
According to Futrell, ever since she was young she has gotten into trouble for making fun of things.
“To me, humor can be found anywhere, especially pop culture,” Futrell said. “My generation takes pop culture too seriously, and I like to exploit that in my fan fictions. By pointing out people’s obsessions in the form of a story, it gives people a chance to laugh at something they can relate to: themselves.”
Since open mic night was usually dominated by musical performers, it took some courage to do something different in front of a crowd. It was worth it, however; Wilson said he appreciated the variety Futrell brought to the performances.
“While singing is great, I’ve never been more joyful than after one of McKenna’s performances,” Wilson said. “It just lightens the whole room in an instant. It leaves everyone happier and more lively for the rest of the acts.”