KSU Alumnus brings inspiration and laughter to campus


Steve Byrne

Joy TaMar Moorer

Laughter will fill the Student Center Ballroom as Kent State alumnus Steve Byrne, creator and star of the TBS show, “Sullivan and Son,” hosts a comedy show Thursday, Nov. 6 at 8 p.m.

For Byrne, coming back to Kent State is nostalgic. However, he couldn’t be more excited to see how the university has progressed since 1997 when he graduated. 

“It’ll be fun to go back (to Kent) and hopefully in some way, be some source of inspiration,” Byrne said. “To say ‘Hey, if I can do it with just hard work and perseverance and dedication and investment into my occupation then hopefully you can do it too.’”

Byrne, who’s been performing stand-up comedy for 17 years, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in theatre studies. After graduating, he moved to New York City, where his dad had relocated.

“I literally finished up Kent, packed my car up and I drove from Kent to New York City,” Byrne said. “The first day I got there I said, ‘I’m not going back until I get a job,’ and I walked up and down Broadway, and the last place I walked into was Caroline’s Comedy Club.”

His encounter with the club’s manager marked the start of Byrne’s career. He started by sweeping floors and answering telephones, but by working there he was introduced to stand-up comedy. 

Although he had never been to a comedy show before, it was while he worked at the club that he knew being a comedian was what he wanted to do. 

“After working there for four months, I said that this was something I wanted to try out,” Byrne said. “I tried it out four months later at Stand Up New York … after I got off the stage I said, ‘I’m doing this for the rest of my life and I don’t care if I ever make a dime.’ ”

Since working at Caroline’s, Byrne has become a successful comedian and actor. In 2006, Byrne hosted his first half hour special, “Comedy Central Presents Steve Byrne.” He then went on to host a full hour special titled, “The Byrne Identity.” 

Byrne has been featured on late-night shows such as “The Late Late Show,” “Live with Jimmy Kimmel” and others. In the summer of 2012, Byrne’s show, “Sullivan and Son” premiered on TBS. The show recently ended its third season in September.  

Although Byrne has been successful in the big city, he’s excited to come back to Kent State. 

“It was perfect timing to bring him.” Undergraduate Student Government programming director Kevin Otubu said. It was rather convenient to set everything up. So we knew that this was something we could do.”

Otubu said with students preparing for final exams in a few weeks, the comedy show could be a great stress reliever.  

“It’s getting to that time of year where it’s getting stressful for students,” he said. “So having a comedian that can make you laugh is good, and he’s a Kent State alum so it’s perfect.”

Along with Byrne, Anthony Savatt and Ryan Dalton, who are also Kent State alumni, will be a part of the show. Savatt graduated in 2002, and Dalton graduated with Byrne in 1997.  

Students can purchase tickets at the MAC Center, or at the ballroom on the day of the show for $5.  The show is also open to the public, and the tickets cost $10 for non-students who want to attend. Tickets can also be purchased online on USG’s website. 

Breyanna Tripp, junior public relations major, said she can’t wait to see the show. She said by having an alumnus come to campus, students have the opportunity to see they too can become successful.  

“It’s good for students to see and hear from successful alumni,” Tripp said. “It reminds you to take advantage of your degree. It reminds you that college is worth it and the sky is the limit.”

For Byrne, the comedy show not only gives him the chance to make others laugh but to inspire students who are where he has been. It’s a chance to remember the fun times he shared and the friendships he made. 

“What I got from Kent at the end of the day was a lot of great friendships,” Byrne said. “And great experiences in terms of helping me mature and become more of an adult. But truth be told, my time at Kent, I just had a blast. I really had as much fun as I could. I absolutely had a great time.”

Contact Joy TaMar Moorer at [email protected].