Yale-centric Fall Show draws laughs

Stand-up comedian John Mulaney headlined at this year’s Fall Comedy Show.
Stand-up comedian John Mulaney headlined at this year’s Fall Comedy Show. Photo by Sara Miller.

When stand-up comedian and writer John Mulaney took the stage at Saturday’s Fall Comedy Show, he quickly informed audience members that he was afraid of them.

“When I think of Yale, I really just picture a bunch of William Howard Tafts walking around,” he explained. “That’s pretty intimidating.”

Mulaney, whose parents both attended Yale Law School and whose sister attended Yale College, used his knowledge of the University to tailor his jokes to Yale, quipping about the Yale-Harvard rivalry and his parents’ memories of Bill Clinton LAW ’73. The Fall Comedy Show, sponsored by the Yale College Council, drew over 700 attendees to Woolsey Hall and began with performances by Ryan Bowers ’14 and Shon Arieh-Lerer ’14, the two winners of the YCC’s Last Comic Standing competition. Students interviewed said they appreciated Mulaney’s Yale-specific humor, and Mulaney explained in an interview with the News that he always tries to tailor his material to his audience.

“I like to acknowledge where I am,” Mulaney said. “Especially at a place like a college, where I walk in thinking, ‘This’ll be fun. These are sharp, smart young people’ — to me, Yale seems really smart and sly.”

Mulaney writes frequently for Saturday Night Live and has performed on Comedy Central, Late Night with Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel Live. In 2010, Mulaney spoke at a Master’s Tea, joking Saturday about the title “Master’s Tea” for including “two of the most terrifying words I can think of. We got rid of masters in America a long time ago.”

Mulaney’s set also included a joke detailing when his Yahoo! email account was hacked, resulting in a spam email to his entire contact list. The email included a link to a website advertising “herbal Viagra,” he said, adding that the link was so long and complicated that it “looked like the HIV virus written out.”

In an unscripted portion of his performance, Mulaney walked over to two pairs of female underwear that had been thrown from the audience at student comedian Arieh-Lerer, whose performance parodied a German drill sergeant teaching a humor seminar.

“When a female fan throws underwear at you, aren’t you supposed to take it?” Mulaney asked the audience.

YCC President John Gonzalez ’14 said turnout was down from last year’s Fall Comedy Show, but that last year’s problems with the sound system were fixed on Saturday. Gonzalez added that Mulaney’s improvisation gave energy to his routine.

“I loved that he had a full-on conversation with a student sitting in the first row,” he said. “He asked him about his major and what he wanted to do and then was able to make jokes about Australian news correspondents. He was such an engaging guy, even without being offensive.”

Students interviewed said they enjoyed Mulaney’s performance because it centered around Yale. Clara Sachsse ’13 said she is familiar with Mulaney’s material, but that his jokes on Saturday night were all new to her.

“I’m so glad it was new because I’ve heard all his old stuff,” she said. “And I loved that he was able to make so many of the jokes relate to Yale.”

Beth Labossiere ’14 agreed and called the Master’s Tea joke “spot-on.”

Though several students in the first few rows were drinking from a flask during the show, neither Gonzalez nor YCC events coordinator Bryan Epps ’14 said they witnessed students drinking.

“I wasn’t aware of that,” Epps said. “We hired Contemporary Services Corporation to help check people in and make sure people were disposing of liquids. We do the best we can, but people are inevitably going to sneak something in.”

Mulaney has released two stand-up comedy albums, 2009’s “The Top Part” and 2012’s “New in Town.”

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