Students show off their talents at Varsity Night Live

Locals packed Zorn Arena as event host, comedian Pete Lee, and nine other acts took the stage for annual variety show

More stories from Katrina Erskine


Photo by Sam Farley

Jonny Zajac from the Forward Brass Band showcases his love for music by jumping to the beat of “Take On Me” by a-ha!

Homecoming week at UW-Eau Claire aims to celebrate current and past students through a variety of long-time traditions. Varsity Night Live, an annual variety show, is one of the ways UW-Eau Claire celebrates its students and their talents. Comedian Pete Lee joined UW-Eau Claire and the Eau Claire community as this year’s VNL host.

Lee is originally from Wisconsin, but has traveled the world pursuing his career as a stand-up comedian. He has been a part of “The Tonight Show,” and continues to do perform around the country.

“I didn’t make it into (UW-)Madison, so I went to the University of Minnesota,” Lee said. “But neither did any of you; that’s why we are here.”

Lee continued to crack jokes throughout the night and explained to the audience how his Wisconsin accent failed to land him a job on a crime scene show.

Shannon Czaplinski, a member of the UAC Festivals Chair, said VNL fills the stands of Zorn Arena each year.

“A lot of faculty and administration as well as students like to come to the show,” Czaplinski said.

The first act was called Jazz II. They are nationally-known jazz musicians. Robert Baca, director of the jazz studies program, said these students have such a passion for music that it might end up being their careers.

The following acts included more jazz, singing, juggling and more.

One act, the “Forward Brass Band,” comprised students showcasing their love for music.

Jonny Zajac, a third-year biochemistry and molecular biology student played the saxophone for the band. Zajac appeared to the audience to have a lot of fun with his performance, playing with the instrument over his head and dancing while he played.

“Part of it is nerves,” Zajac said. “Another part of it is the crowd. They hyped me up.”

During the band’s performance, Zajac performed a solo. He’s done many solos in the past, he said, so VNL was nothing new.

The show continued on with other acts showing their talent in the Blugold community.

“This is an awesome event that shows the wide range of talent the students at this university have,” Czaplinski said. “It’s always a fun treat to see new students, as well as recurring students, show their talent for the school and have fun doing it.”

Erskine can be reached at [email protected].