Comedian out to inspire students

May 12, 1999

Mark SharenbroichBy BRUCE HAMILTON / Staff Writer

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer

He spoke with passion and humor, but Mark Sharenbroich described himself as just another substitute teacher.

The man who took the stage at North Hagerstown High School's auditorium Wednesday morning was there to inspire, but don't call him a motivational speaker.

"I'm not really a motivational speaker," he told the audience. "It's on my brochure, but I just say that to get the engagement. It worked."

The Minnesota native said he has performed at more than 2,500 schools across the nation since 1977.

Sponsored by Students Against Destructive Decisions, Sharenbroich spoke to a school assembly of about 1,200 students, according to Principal David Reeder. The comic's only props were a microphone, a glass of water and a desk.


He spoke about leadership, self-respect, tolerance and sobriety in a 90-minute monologue peppered with humor.

Using a variety of voices, poses and facial expressions, he entertained the students while challenging them to have positive attitudes.

"Let's face it, Hubs, if you can't motivate yourselves, what makes you think I can?" he said.

People who care about life choose to make their days count, while those who don't care choose to be unhappy and blame everyone but themselves, he said.

Students form their identities in high school as their friends, styles, appearances, musical tastes and ethics change, he said.

"It's the very first time you begin to take hold as a human being as to who you are."

Sharenbroich described how some students lose enthusiasm over the years. For first-graders, every day is a kick, he said. They raise their hands in class when they don't know the answer or even the question.

"Remember how much your arms hurt back then?" he joked. But then the boys in the back of the room go to work, he said. "They laugh at us because we're excited about life.

"You'll always have people whose only joy in life is to take yours away." Sharenbroich urged students to be themselves. "When you lie about something to fit in you wind up looking like a jerk," he said.

"You're an original. Don't let anyone take that away from you and please don't take it away from anyone else."

Reeder said he was impressed that one person could hold the attention of so many teenagers. He said Sharenbroich, who spoke to a student government group after the assembly, got a $2,500 fee.

Judging from the laughter and applause, the students enjoyed themselves. Jon Skrabak, a senior who volunteered to participate in a routine on stage, said the performance was fun.

"I liked it. It was different," he said. "Usually these assemblies are boring."

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