Last Comic Standing draws laughs

Shon Arieh-Lerer ’14 and Ryan Bowers ’14 (not pictured) were selected to open for the the Yale College Council’s Fall Show on Nov. 3.
Shon Arieh-Lerer ’14 and Ryan Bowers ’14 (not pictured) were selected to open for the the Yale College Council’s Fall Show on Nov. 3. Photo by Lavinia Borzi.

Yale College Dean Mary Miller, white girls rapping and having “the talk” with parents all found their way into jokes told at Thursday night’s Last Comic Standing competition.

The stand-up comedy event, sponsored by the Yale College Council, gave 13 Yale students the chance to showcase their comedic talent on stage in front of a crowd of nearly 400 students. Four comedians — Ryan Bowers ’14, Jesse Schreck ’14, Caleb Madison ’15 and Shon Arieh-Lerer ’14 — moved on to a second round, and Bowers and Arieh-Lerer were ultimately chosen to open for the YCC’s Fall Show on Nov. 3. The selection process considered student judges’ opinions as well as those texted in by audience members.

In his act, Bowers provided audience members with a lengthy description of the first time he saw another boy’s genitals. A member of sketch comedy group Red Hot Poker, Bowers told the News he thought stand-up comedy involved more pressure than sketch because the comedian is alone on stage.

“When you’re up there with a group, you’re all in it together,” he said. “If your joke doesn’t go over well with stand-up comedy, that’s all you.”

Arieh-Lerer impersonated an invented character named Claus and wore military attire while delivering his jokes in a German accent. He said he wanted to teach the audience to “tell a joke,” but scolded the audience when they laughed.

Though many competitors used sexual innuendos during their presentations, several discussed topical social and political issues. Before telling a joke about obesity, Julie Shain ’13 said she wanted to refer to it as “obese-boned” to keep her language politically correct.

Still, other contestants did not choose to moderate their language. Arieh-Lerer said he is “seeing” a new person, referring to his relationship status, but followed his comment up by saying, “Suck on that, blind people.”

Alex Goel ’14, who moderated the event, said he thinks Last Comic Standing provides an outlet for stand-up comedy that cannot be found in any other setting at Yale.

Rumpus Editor-in-Chief Christina Brasco ’14, a judge at the event, said she enjoyed forming her own opinion of each comic and also considering the audience’s reaction in her decisions.

Audience members interviewed said they found the jokes funny and not offensive. Aaron Berman ’16 said he was not personally offended by the jokes, but thought that other “more sensitive” attendees may have been. Nick Goel ’16 said he does not think stand-up comedy can be “truly offensive.”

Last year’s winners opened for YouTube celebrity Bo Burnham at the 2011 Fall Show.


  • Branford73

    > Nick Goel ’16 said he does not think
    > stand-up comedy can be “truly
    > offensive.”

    Hmm. Good topic for an English class essay. Sometimes a thing can be so ugly it’s beautiful– witness Handsome Dan. Sometimes a joke is funny precisely because it is offensive. Much of Sarah Silverman’s stand up comedy is based on this phenomenon. Ricky Gervais makes this point often, too. His introduction to this joke was a statement that no topic should be off-limits for jokes, including pedophilia:

    • amenhotep

      Good job with your brain!

  • amenhotep

    Shon is a brilliant, luminous, and wonderful person and everyone should like him the correct amount.

  • The Anti-Yale

    > . Sometimes a thing can be so ugly it’s beautiful

    Sometimes humor is the result of unintended juxtaposition:

    After the CBS News reported Lance Armstrong was stripped of his titles and banned from biking forever for illegal doping, an add came on for a male enhancement product for an illness called “Low-T, or Low Testosterone”

  • The Anti-Yale


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