A look back on the Comedy Festival

By Kami Rieck

He has produced content for Comedy Central and mashable.com, has been noted as one of the most successful alumni from his high school, and solicited time from his busy schedule to travel nearly 2,000 miles to return to his alma mater, in hopes to inspire current students.

2002 Concordia graduate Joe Harkenrider returned to Fort Wayne from Los Angeles this past weekend to host the 2nd annual Concordia Comedy Festival. As host and judge, Harkenrider’s primary official duties were to select the best entries from the many excellent films and present the winners with prizes including GoPro cameras, gift cards, and certificates.  However, he also took the opportunity to share his experiences with Concordia students sitting exactly where he was just a few short years ago.  All those in attendance benefitted from Joe’s tips and stories about his successful career.

Here’s what people are saying:

“It was really cool to hear from someone who has been in our shoes, and knows what it takes to make it. My favorite part was the videos that he produced and showed us, which talked about reviews of products, and interpreted them into a possible story line.  It was interesting to see how they adapted a review into a full comedy sketch.” -Jackson Wright, junior

“I enjoyed the videos he showed us because it represented his hard work, and the new technology that’s being used. It’s an industry that I’m interested in, and he showed us the pathway to take into the industry since it’s harder to get into without connections, and that you don’t need to be in L.A to make a career.” -Timothy Dixie, sophomore

“It was great to have him come visit our classes and give the students a realistic view of the industry. The more the kids know about the need to work hard and do their best in order to have the industry doors opened to them, the harder they will work to do even better now, and in their future careers.” – Miss Leah Zink, media arts teacher

“Hearing Joe’s story was really inspiring. Knowing that he started here in Fort Wayne, and graduated from Concordia and was able to find a successful creative career is encouraging. I’m glad he was able to come in and speak to us.” – Claire Hegge, senior

“He helped me organize my online portfolio, and it was really an honor to have someone who has worked and had success in the industry looking at my portfolio, and helping me to grow and have success in my dream job.” – Johnny Min, senior

“It was great being able to talk to a successful person in the industry and see that it is possible to make it in this career. It was very inspiring, and it gave me hope and encouragement to continue in my passion. I’m really thankful for the taste of reality Joe gave us through talking with us.” – Abbie Oetting, senior

“Students hear it from us all the time: what it takes to be in the industry, but hearing it from someone who is literally living in it is greatly beneficial for them.” – Miss. Denise Delzeith, art teacher

“I felt like the best part of Joe coming was when he started talking about, you know, how if you want to succeed, you need to go above and beyond what is expected. When Joe told us that you don’t have to be in Hollywood to produce good content, that was what really motivated me.” -David Kujak, sophomore