A common symptom of being a Yale student this semester is nausea upon opening Zoom for yet another livestreamed lecture. But, for the last month, feverish campus comedians have been working on a cure for this computer-related condition.

On May 8 at 9 p.m. Eastern time, sketch comedy group Red Hot Poker will release their final show of the year on YouTube. They renamed the famed post-Spring Fling feature the “Most Offensive Zoom Ever Zoomed” — MOZEZ for short. 

“I don’t want to say that it’s a quarantine show, but there’s definitely a lot of content that I think is going to be very relatable to people,” said Lillian Wenker ’22, the show’s director. Red Hot Poker members wrote the 70-minute show entirely over Zoom. Wenker said many of the sketches are about “the absurdity of trying to translate normal life activities into the confines of the Zoom format.”

Ben Jenkins ’23, the video producer, said they “started preparing in a way that we didn’t realize was preparation.” By holding their regular meetings, the group worked out the kinks of online communication and organized themselves enough to write the show.

Yet the online format still posed challenges. Jenkins said Red Hot Poker can’t trust a stable live connection enough to perform a whole show over Zoom. Instead, they have prerecorded their sketches, and the cast will join the livestream for comments.

“Comedy is built on timing and the internet is built on instantaneousness, and when those two factors don’t line up, you get bad jokes,” Jenkins said.

In other ways, an online show created new possibilities. “People really come out for this show, and last year we had to turn 50 people away at the door,” Wenker said. With the show on YouTube, more people both within the Yale community and beyond can watch. 

“There’s something special [about] viewing comedy in person and being in a room where 150 people are laughing,” Wenker said. So Red Hot Poker sought to make the sketches “lively and personable” and create a “communal sense of viewership” comparable to a live experience, she added.

“The good thing is that we’re living through very absurd times in which everything is changing and falling apart, which is horrible, but it makes for a lot of opportunities for good, new comedy,” said Zoe Larkin ’23, a producer for the show. “I think it’ll be really cathartic to see wild takes on all the things that are happening.”

Red Hot Poker will release trailers for MOZEZ on Instagram over the next two weeks. 

“We hope to just continue our role in a new platform,” Jenkins said. “[Red Hot Poker] is just Yalies writing about what they find funny, and Yale happens to be online right now.”

Red Hot Poker was founded in 1855.


Tyler Brown | tyler.brown@yale.edu