Student Spotlight with Melissa Cesarano

Melissa Cesarano

Mark Stehle

AMELIA JENKS BLOOMER: Cesarano, 21, is a member of Bloomers, Penn’s all-female musical and sketch comedy troupe. She has been involved with the group since her sophomore year. “I’ve known what college is like with and without Bloomers, and let’s just say my college experience began on initiation night,” she says.

LONG ISLAND SOUND: From Floral Park, Long Island, Cesarano says her love for performing arts began in high school. She sang in an a cappella group, the all-district choir, and in musical productions. She was also the captain of her kickline team, a dance crew similar to the Radio City Rockettes.

MELISSA EXPLAINS IT ALL: Cesarano, who is also a member of the Penn Choral Society, says she decided to audition for Bloomers after seeing a performance by Mask and Wig—Penn’s all-male musical comedy troupe—during her freshman year. “I was like, ‘Why are they all men? I want to do that,’” she recalls. “I heard of Bloomers and I was like, ‘That’s it. That’s what I want to do. I’m so glad there’s a female version.’”

SIBLING RIVALRY: Cesarano says Bloomers and Mask and Wig have a “brother-sister relationship.” She says the women of Bloomers look up to their more established male peers in some ways, “but in other ways we’re very much on the same level because it’s comedy, and you’re either funny or you’re not.”

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Even in 2012, Cesarano says it can be a challenge for female comedians to get respect. “It’s such a male-dominated field, and it always has been,” she says. “It’s hard for a solely female group to try and be funny, but it works and it’s beautiful.”

DIFFERENT SEASONS: Bloomers puts on a fall show and a spring show each year. The fall show, directed by Cesarano, was called “Goopleface: OCR We There Yet?” and told the tale of a super company created after the merger of Google, Apple, and Facebook. The spring show, which ran from March 15 to 17 at the Class of ’49 Auditorium in Houston Hall, was titled “A Chuckle in Time.”

FUNNY PEOPLE: Female comedians that Cesarano admires include “Saturday Night Live” alum and “Mean Girls” writer Tina Fey, and current “SNL” players Kristen Wiig and Vanessa Bayer, a Penn alumna and former Bloomer. “She just gave us so much hope,” Cesarano says of Bayer. “Being on ‘SNL’ is my dream job. It’s great to see a fellow Bloomer be so successful in comedy.”

YO TEACH!: Cesarano was recently accepted into the Ph.D. program at Columbia University’s Teachers College, and will pursue a Doctorate of Education in the Department of Human Development with a specialization in cognitive studies in education. “I’ll be sure to continue my comedic pursuits on various side projects,” she says.

Originally published on March 15, 2012