R U Joking? No, but Rowan does have a new comedic storytelling publication

Emily Nolan and Carly Murray at the 2022 AWPs writers conference in Philadelphia. - Photo / Carly Murray

R U someone who enjoys laughter and joy through comedic storytelling? 

“R U Joking?” is a comedic publication started by students and faculty on Rowan University’s campus using comedic storytelling to spread joy and laughter to Glassboro and beyond. 

The concept behind “R U Joking? began during the 2020 pandemic, a time when laughter was desperately needed. “R U Joking” strives to showcase stories, jokes and shorts by diverse writers across the country since the publication launched on Feb. 6, 2022.  

The creator, founder and editor-in-chief, Professor Keri Mikulski came up with the idea during the pandemic in collaboration with students in her comedy writing class. 

With the website only being a year old, Mikulski has seen it take off and reach a much wider audience than just the Rowan community.

“We had an incredible amount of success in the first year. We’ve had professors that have sent us their work. We’ve had comedians, people from all over the world submit work…. We started out thinking maybe we would publish one piece a week during spring 2021-2022. Maybe two a week, sometimes three a week, then by the end of the fall 2022 semester we were posting three times a week. And we had submissions filled out for the entire month. So it really just started to grow,” Mikulski said. 

Ellie Cameron, a fall 2021 graduate with a bachelor’s in writing arts and a concentration in creative writing, is one of the founding editors and currently the marketing manager.  While Cameron is back at Rowan as a graduate student pursuing a master’s in writing, she’s appreciative of the experience of taking writing comedy as an undergraduate.   

“That was one of my favorite classes for my undergrad. It probably shaped my growth the most of my classes, which I didn’t expect taking writing comedy to do.,” Cameron said. “We started off by learning about the structure of jokes, the different types of jokes, the different ways that people write jokes. Then we moved on to different forms of how to apply that, like satire. We talked about personal essays, we talked about stories.”

As the marketing manager, Cameron runs the publication’s Instagram and Twitter accounts, engaging multiple times during the week with followers. 

“We do a throwback Thursday where we highlight one of our own pieces chosen by a different editor every week. We do a funny Friday which we like to highlight a piece from a different comedy site to build our presence in the comedy community. Then there’s try it Tuesday where I post a short little prompt, so like last week it was just three words and you write a story with those three words,” Cameron said. 

Managing and founding editor, graduate Emily Nolan really had to have her arm twisted by Mikulski to sell her on the idea of the website

Graduating last year with a bachelor’s in writing arts and a double minor in communications and dance, managing and founding editor Emily Nolan is still at Rowan currently pursuing a master’s degree in writing. Through the teaching experience program, she teaches composition I and II for students. 

“During COVID she called me on Zoom and basically gave me a little elevator pitch and was like, ‘I would love for you to work on this with me.’ And yeah, that kind of how we got into it,” Nolan said.

Nolan, who also does standup, describes her comedic style as being ‘Gen Z’ with her jokes geared towards a younger audience using inside jokes and emojis in her writing.

Another founding editor for “R U Joking?” is senior journalism student Carly Murray. Murray stylistically describes herself as utilizing surreal elements in her comedic storytelling and is grateful for the opportunity to share her hard work with the world.

“It’s the first time I was ever able to be published. So just providing that opportunity is so cool to see how that works. The editing process with the whole community and really seeing the stages of professional publication,” Murray said. 

Her experience inside the classroom with Mikulski also pushed her to get involved in “R U Joking?” 

“I was in Professor Mikulski’s comedy writing class and had such a great time. I love her. She’s the best. She was talking about starting a website and was like, ‘Of course, I want to do that!’ And it’s supposed to be fashioned after the Harvard Lampoon that Colin Jost was a part of. I started the internship and have been doing it for like, two and a half years now,” Murray said.    

The group meets twice a week, once via zoom and once in person, which has yielded great results in building creative chemistry. 

“That in-person meeting is so vital for getting to know each other. Building trust so that we could work the most effectively… especially because we all have different styles too. I wouldn’t say we’re all very similar comedians, so getting to work with each other’s strengths and weaknesses has been really great and definitely helped me grow,” Nolan said.

The comedy site is still in its infancy, yet already has people from all across the country and globe contributing to it.

No matter how big the website gets, or whoever replaces the graduating students, the mission of “R U Joking?” will always be the same.  

“We all just have a great time and knowing that we’re putting something that I’d call pure into the world,” Cameron said. “We’re putting out this call for laughter, for joy, for stories and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.”

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