Stand-up comedians Dat Phan and Cory Kahaney will perform at this year’s Fall Show on Nov. 8th, the Yale Student Activities Committee announced in a campuswide e-mail Wednesday night.
Both Phan, who will headline the show, and Kahaney, who will be the opening act, have spent less time on the stand-up circuit than previous Fall Show headliners but come with cheaper price tags, allowing YSAC to free up funds to bring a music act to campus in February or March.
“I’m trying to make a progressive change in mainstream entertainment’s portrayal of Asian-Americans,” Phan said in an e-mail Wednesday, adding that he is excited to perform at Yale. “Many of you haven’t seen my recent comedy so I’m anxious to show off some of my new material.”
Phan — a Vietnamese immigrant whose comedic act centers around Asian-American families and issues — won the first season of the NBC reality show “Last Comic Standing,” in which Kahaney finished as a finalist.
Kahaney started a live performance show in New York that features female, Jewish comics, called “Jewish-American-Princesses of Comedy.”
Because Phan does not perform with a preferred opening act, YSAC added Kahaney to the show’s bill in hopes that their history as competitors would add chemistry to the performance, Leatherbury said.
Phan is widely known for his impression of his mother, whose heavy Vietnamese accent he imitates with phrases like, “Dat Phan, you become a doctor!”
The choice of Phan, Leatherbury said, reflects student responses to a survey sent in September. The survey included the question, “Would you be in favor of spending $5-10,000 less on the Fall Show to keep for a Winter event, such as a concert with either Gunther or Lupe Fiasco?”
65 percent of students said yes. Of the 2,136 responses to a question asking students which low-budget performer they wanted to see, 20.4 percent of students picked Phan.
“We were glad that we were able to take student input,” said Leatherbury, “and deliver just what the survey indicated.”
Last year, comedian Mike Birbiglia headlined the fall show. Birbiglia’s appearance, which featured a joke where he dismissed Woolsey Hall as a “church,” brought over 1,000 students to Woolsey Hall. If ticket prices and sales for Phan and Kahaney are in line with last year, YSAC will save $4,000 over the cost of bringing Birbiglia to campus, Leatherbury said. Tickets for undergraduates this year will cost $6 in advance and $10 at the door, the same amount YSAC charged for tickets to see Birbiglia. Prices for non-undergraduates are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.
Leatherbury said he projects ticket sales for Phan will be on par with years past, pointing to Birbiglia’s 1,300-strong crowd as evidence that lesser-known comedians can still pack Woolsey.
Leatherbury said he hopes the money can be put toward a show, which would be co-sponsored by the student publication Volume magazine, featuring an up-and-coming musical act. Leatherbury said the show would likely take place in February or March.
“We have the winter show pretty much set now and we’re working with Volume and they’ve got a really great artist pretty much for free,” Leatherbury said, though he could not say who the artist was because contracts with the band have yet to be finalized.
Seven of 10 students interviewed said they did not know who Phan was, the remaining three said they were ambivalent about his upcoming show.
“I’m disappointed,” said Will Stephen ’11, though he added that he remembered Phan being funny on Last Comic Standing.
Other performers who scored well in Phan’s price range included Daniel Tosh, Gilbert Gottfried and Patton Oswalt.