Students from each residential college held their own Fall Show on Thursday night, and no one seemed to miss Horatio Sanz.
Gregor Nazarian ’09, draped in an American flag and matching patriotic pajama pants, edged out 11 other contestants to win the “Mr. Yale” title. The event was the first annual male beauty pageant for Yale undergraduates, drawing a capacity crowd in Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall.
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Representing Ezra Stiles College, Nazarian impressed the judges with his rendition of “God Bless America” on the harmonica, topping other contestants who sang, danced and rapped their way across the stage.
“Mr. Yale” supplemented the annual Fall Show, which the Yale Student Activities Committee announced last month would be pushed back to February because of scheduling problems. While the Fall Show has lured famous comedians to campus, “Mr. Yale” featured three Yale celebrities who formed the panel of judges — football captain Chandler Henley ’07, Yale College Dean Peter Salovey and Law School Dean of Admissions Asha Rangappa, who was voted America’s hottest law school dean last month.
“After the debacle that was Horatio Sanz’s Fall Show performance last year, YSAC decided we needed performers that were both more talented and better looking,” said Molly Green ’09, who emceed the event with Sarah Minkus ’08.
The show opened with a choreographed dance — including coordinated stripping — to Justin Timberlake’s “Sexy Back.” The stripping theme continued into the formal-wear contest, which included numerous styles of underwear, a slinky halter dress, and a Scottish kilt and sword.
The second leg of the competition, a talent show, drew acts ranging from Nazarian’s passionate harmonica performance to a full derivation of Maxwell’s Laws on a chalkboard.
“As we prepare to beat Harvard in the big game, we wanted to think about what makes Yale Yale,” Minkus said. “I was devastated — because of the devastatingly handsome men.”
Yale College Council Secretary Zach Marks ’09 said he considered the event a success thanks to the energetic crowd and over-the-top contestants.
“I think hopefully this will be the beginning of another great Yale tradition to go along with the great tradition of the Harvard-Yale game,” he said. “Seeing Reid Wittman [’09] prance around in tights and having Mark Godfrey [’08] serenade all of us with his wonderful rendition of Meat Loaf is something I will not forget for a long time.”
Students roared with laughter throughout the competition, which lasted for more than two hours in the crowded SSS auditorium.
Emma Vawter ’10 said she was disappointed that Kunal Rambhia ’07 — whose cheering crowd of poster-waving Silliman groupies dominated an entire third of SSS’s center section — did not emerge victorious. But, she said, the Mr. Yale competition was more entertaining than any stand-up comedy act would have been.
“It was the best possible way to spend my Thursday night before the Yale-Harvard game,” Vawter said. “It’s so much better when it’s people you know. It’s guaranteed to be enjoyable, as opposed to a comedian that might flop.”
Last year, the Fall Show drew then-Saturday Night Live regular Sanz and “Daily Show” contributor Ed Helms.
But Basie Gitlin ’10 said that although he enjoyed the show, more participation on the part of the judges could have made the pageant even more entertaining.
“Given that all three of them are somewhat celebrity judges, it would have been nice to capitalize on it,” he said. “It would be fun if they were a little more visible.”
YSAC Representative Michael Chao ’10 said he hopes the Mr. Yale pageant will take place in a larger venue next year, and he thinks the event will draw even more students after this year’s success.
“All the contestants … were well prepared and very spirited, and of course our celebrity judges did an amazing job as well,” he said. “I think this could become a really big event in the next few years.”
This year’s Fall Show featuring stand-up comedian and “Daily Show” contributor Lewis Black DRA ’77 was originally scheduled for Oct. 12. Instead, he will perform as part of the Winter Arts Festival next semester. Black performed at the University of Connecticut on Nov. 6.