I don’t know if you saw the line for the six porta-potties near the National Mall when at least half a million women marched there, but it looked pretty similar to the line outside of Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall when I arrived at College and Grove streets last Sunday. After a brief moment of panic that I wouldn’t get into the Yale College Council’s Winter Comedy Show despite arriving over a half an hour early, I remembered that SSS has a lot more seats than the National Mall has portable bathrooms and proceeded to go to the end of the line. I soon was seated in a pretty enviable seat, just feet away from the stage — close enough to delude myself that Aidy Bryant and I definitely made eye contact. It definitely happened.
The Winter Comedy Show was announced on Jan. 16, the day most Yalies returned from winter break and drew enthusiastic crowds just six days later. This comedy show was the first-ever Winter show, a departure from the typical Fall Comedy Show that Yale College Council hosts. The show featured Abigail Bessler ’17, Saturday Night Live writer Anna Drezen and Saturday Night Live cast member Aidy Bryant.
The show opened with Charlie Bardey ’17, our emcee for the night. Within his first moments on stage, the audience had sufficiently warmed up for an evening of laughter. Bardey started with a call-and-response routine that turned into a joke about romantic frustration — a thread that carried through the show — which elicited raucous laughter.
Bardey then introduced Bessler, the winner of Yale’s Last Comic Standing. Bessler performed a routine that covered ground from a turkey festival in her home state of Minnesota to troubles with Yale boys. The audience seemed to most enjoy the final part of her routine, in which she read Urban Dictionary definitions as erotica.
Next, Bardey welcomed Drezen to the stage. He introduced her by noting that she recently was recognized as having the 11th funniest Twitter account of 2016 by Paste Magazine. Drezen, in addition to writing for Saturday Night Live, contributes regularly to Reductress and participates in New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. Drezen opened by greeting the audience as “smart assholes.” From there, she proceeded to give the college-aged audience advice on how her life has changed in her late 20s: from dinner parties (“You have to plan your fun when you get older”) to the trends of “whisper-talking.” The audience reacted particularly positively to her demonstration of whisper-talking and use of physical comedy. She also told her Tinder horror stories and asked the audience to share their own. No one seemed particularly eager to share, but there were definitely some empathetic sighs.
As Drezen’s set ended, Bryant came literally running down the aisle of SSS, a building she consistently joked about — she compared it to a church or a wedding venue throughout her set. Bryant told the audience she wanted to get “comfortable” and did this by confessing that she nearly wore the same shirt that she wore in the picture projected over her head at the event. Highlights of her routine included bringing up two freshmen, a male and a female, to act out a scene she had written depicting a college romance. She also told the tale of being involved in chain texts with her nieces and followed that by showing images of a diary she had when she was the same age as them. She loved “turtels,” (as written in her diary) and upon getting two, she named them “Shish” and “Kebab.” Shish outlived Kebab by twenty years.
But perhaps the highlight of her routine was when she challenged the audience to test her Yale knowledge and provided answers to the toughest questions. The best residential college, according to Bryant, is “definitely” the one with the “math boys,” and “Woags” (Woads) is a “really hard professor.” The audience reacted strongly when she told us that the way to get into Skull and Bones is to simply “walk in the door.” She said our reaction sounded like we were a bit “triggered” by that.
By the time the hour and a half had elapsed, the Winter Comedy Show had clearly succeeded in making the crowd laugh. As the audience, many now with backpacks, seemed to scurry off to Sterling Memorial Library, they seemed a lot more joyous than when they arrived.