Diary of… NSU’s Last Shark Standing winner

James “Jim” Sinkevich is a senior nursing major. He won $1,000 in NSU’s comedy competition Last Shark Standing and performed before nearly 4,000 people in the Don Taft University Center arena before the Kevin Hart show to close homecoming week. 

It was a stormy day, in the midst of Florida’s rainy season. I was stranded in the U.C. umbrella-less, destitute to this land of Don Taft. Then on the horizon, I saw hope, a sign! Last shark standing…win a $1,000…. I was saved!

I made the terrifying journey across the pit to the Office of Student Activities and signed up. Immediately, the rain stopped, the sun shined. I was free.

But, once I got home, I realized I had no jokes. I actually wasn’t sure if I was funny. I made jokes with friends about things that happened, or people we knew, but never to a group of strangers. So I made some calls, hired Seth Rogan, and had him write my jokes… then I woke up. Good dream.

I did what most college students do, procrastinated ‘til the day of the auditions. It was the morning of the audition, and I have no jokes. So I started pacing, called my girlfriend Alina, and started spouting out random things about me, and asking her if any of these were funny. Then she shouted “THAT ONE!” “Talk about the Gay club!” So I did. I made it through the auditions and semi-finals. (Side note the dancing part of my joke came from a random conversation with Sean Pepin, in Student Activities, about how bad of a dancer I was).

Then about a few weeks went by. During that time, I had about 20 people (including my dad) say, “I have a joke for you… You don’t have to use it, but I’ll let you. Guarantee a win with this joke! So….” I learned a lot of new jokes, none of which I used (sorry).

I made it to the finals. Two days before the Kevin Hart show, I got nervous, really nervous. I started stand up about two hours before the auditions. I wasn’t sure how I would do in front of 4,000 people. Would I be funny to Kevin Hart’s crowd? I could only hope.

The weirdest part of getting ready for it was practicing in front of the mirror. I suggest you all try it some time, just talk to yourself in the mirror. It’s kind of creepy. I started wondering if people out in the hall could hear me and were going like “WTF is this kid doing?? He’s crap!” About two hours before the show, I practiced in front of Alina and the first time I got through it, she laughed. The second time, she chuckled. The third time, she giggled. The forth time, she just sat there. I was ready. I thought.

We got to the arena and there it was, a sign: “SOLD OUT.” My response was “No!” I’m going to fast-forward a bit to the show. I was there with 4,000 people in the audience, and I was pacing, saying “OMG” over and over again. Then I heard, “next up James “Jim” Sinkevich.” I was so nervous I got on stage before my entrance music started playing. Then I looked down and at the table right in front of the stage were all my friends and Alina sitting there smiling, screaming and cheering for me. My nerves calmed.

I did my bit, and people laughed, and it was the most amazing feeling to know that I made 4,000 people laugh — people I don’t know. I could see everyone, and they were all smiling, screaming and cheering me on. I finished my jokes. I said thank you, and people cheered as I walked off the stage. I sat with my all my friends and they were just going crazy for me, telling me how great I did.

Now after the show, Kevin Hart’s very funny show, the winner was announced. The three finalists went back stage and they announced third runner up, Jon. Alex and I just stood there waiting to see who would be second. They called Alex. I could not believe it. I just won. They called me up and I still couldn’t believe it. They gave us big checks, Happy Gilmore style.

I was so happy and excited once I had won. I took maybe 100 pictures with everyone. One of the coolest parts was, as I walked to my seat after we all performed, people were yelling at me, saying they were voting for me, wanting to shake my hand, telling me I was hilarious. And they were all people I had never met before. I felt like a rock star!

This was by far the greatest college experience I could ever have had. I am so thankful for all my friends that supported me and cheered me on, especially Alina. I would also like to say thank you to everyone who voted for me. It means a lot to me and I thank all of you.

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