Around 400 students packed Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall Sunday night for Yale College Council’s Winter Comedy Show, the first comedy show held in the spring semester and the first that is free to the public.
The 90-minute show featured Saturday Night Live writer Anna Drezen, Saturday Night Live cast member Aidy Bryant, and Abigail Bessler ’17, this year’s Last Comic Standing winner, YCC’s annual competition for student-comedians.
“We thought it would be a great way to kick off spring semester when people weren’t worrying about exams or tests,” said YCC events coordinator Lauren Sapienza ’18. In the past, the event was held in Woolsey Hall, and students had to pay up to $15 for a ticket.
“I don’t think there should be any impediment for students to come to a comedy show,” Sapienza said.
Charlie Bardey ’17, the event’s emcee and 2013 winner of the Last Comic Standing competition, warmed up the crowd with a few jokes of his own before introducing Bessler, the opening performer.
A Minnesota native, Bessler began with a story about two turkeys — one from Texas, one from her home state— racing at a Minnesota Turkey Festival. It ended with one of the Texas turkey trainers falling on her bird and breaking its ankle, later snapping its neck to put it out of its misery.
The story, though perhaps sadder than Bessler — a former Magazine editor for the News — had intended, was still popular with the crowd. She followed it up with a joke about comparing the dating scene to the board game “Sorry.”
“Think you can find someone normal within a two mile radius?” Bessler asked. “Sorry!”
Bessler’s routine, a hit with the audience, was all the more impressive considering that this was just her second time doing stand-up, the first being the Last Comic Standing Show. Bessler told the News that she has always kept a record of funny stories and jokes on her computer, but was “too scared” to try stand-up until this year.
Drezen — Sunday Night Live writer and editor-at-large at Reductress, a feminist satire website — followed Bessler with a set of her own.
“Hi smart assholes,” she said as the crowd cheered. She then delivered a pretend lecture, slowly drawing out a square root symbol on the blackboard behind her, writing the number 100 inside, and then changing it into the word “poop.” She ended with a flourish of her piece of chalk, having blown the audience’s collective mind.
That joke was the lightest of her set, which centered on being a young adult living in New York City. When students get out of college, they need to “structure [their] fun,” Drezen said.
“You can’t just have dinner,” she said. “It’s gotta be a dinner party.”
Though the crowd stayed engaged throughout the performance, it was clear the jokes were intended for an audience more experienced with dinner parties and wedding plans.
Still, most students seemed to enjoy her performance, laughing wherever laughter was expected. Alex Ringlein ’18 said he appreciated that Drezen’s jokes were more “out-there” than those of the other comedians, even when they didn’t quite hit their mark.
Bryant, a mainstay on Saturday Night Live, went last. It quickly became clear that she’d be a hit with the audience, ad-libbing jokes about the student photographer — “TMZ is crazy!”— and the creaky air conditioner — “Is there a weird Captain Hook situation going on?” she asked.
Her set revolved around her pre-pubescence, a time when she was obsessed with horses and rocking what she called “a stressful look.” Students, most of whom have probably sported the same stressful look she was talking about at some point in their lives, applauded loudly.
Bryant, who could have kept the crowd laughing with half an hour of straight improvisation, instead showed off her range, weaving between stand-up, improv, storytelling and impressions. At one point, she called two freshmen, one boy and one girl, who read a script she had written. It ended with the two slow dancing as Bryant sang “the Yale Song” — about the university “where love is real and school is cool” — which she made up on the spot.
Among the YCC’s upcoming events is be the second annual Amazing Race scavenger hunt, which begins near the end of the semester.