Montana State University

Former comedian uses skills to teach MSU students

February 12, 2004 -- By Evelyn Boswell, MSU News Service


Hunter Lloyd   High-Res Available

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Hunter Lloyd has been the opening act for comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and Tim Allen. He's stood up to hecklers and appeared on such programs as The Comedy Channel.

So should teaching large classes bother him?

Definitely not.

Lloyd actually prefers large classes over small ones and requested them even when he first came to Montana State University-Bozeman as a graduate student. If he can get 60 percent of 200 people laughing, the mood is more likely to spread than if he tickled 60 percent of five people, said Lloyd, now an adjunct instructor in computer science.

"If you can keep them all entertained, keep them all listening to you, certain things are kind of contagious," said Lloyd who finds humor a good way to liven up a classroom, build rapport and segue into unfamiliar material.

"The other day, I could feel no energy in the room," Lloyd said. "So I did two or three minutes of my old act that I hadn't done this semester. Then we went back to computer science. I was more energized, and I felt the students were a lot more energized."

Lloyd became a professional comedian when he was an undergraduate at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. After winning a comedy contest in Phoenix, Ariz., he started traveling on the weekends, telling jokes about family and college life. He continued working for three years, but finally decided he didn't want to move to Los Angeles to advance his comic career. Instead, he finished his last year of college and traveled one more year on the comedy circuit. Then he enrolled as a graduate student at MSU, earned his degree in computer science and started teaching.

His background has been useful over the past six years when he's taught an estimated 7,200 students, Lloyd commented. His Computer Science 120 class averages 80 to 100 students a semester. His Computer Science 160 class generally has 120 to 150 students. His computer literacy class averages about 500 students, but some take the class over the internet.

"When I start losing a big class, I start thinking about something I used to do and throw it in," Lloyd said.

"He's very good. I like him a lot," said Nycole Logan, a sophomore majoring in accounting. "He kind of makes it fun for us and puts it in a perspective that we can see."

Darcy McCune, a freshman majoring in horticulture, said, "When it's funny and interesting, it helps you learn."

Humor isn't Lloyd's only teaching tool. He uses animated and 3-D graphics to help explain lecture points. He's created software that allows him to give tests over the internet, and each class has its own web site.

"The whole point is to help them learn," Lloyd said.

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or evelynb@montana.edu