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Two well-known comedians liven the Brandeis community

By Emma Kahn

Section: Arts

April 8, 2016

On Tuesday night, students had the pleasure of seeing well-known comedians H. Jon Benjamin and Eugene Mirman perform stand-up comedy routines. Students crammed outside Sherman Function Hall long before the show began in a gesture of anticipation markedly different from that for Sherman food. The event surely proved that Brandeis is home to many “Bob’s Burgers” fans, only one of several shows for which H. Jon Benjamin and Eugene Mirman are recognized. Benjamin and Mirman performed for a packed audience who eagerly anticipated the event.

H. Jon Benjamin is an actor and comedian widely recognized for his distinctive, rich voice in the role of the lead spy Sterling Archer in the animated series “Archer,” as well as the voice of Bob Belcher in the animated series “Bob’s Burgers.” In 2014, Benjamin was named best male performer by Vulture TV Awards of New York Magazine, largely for his work with “Archer” and “Bob’s Burgers.”

Eugene Mirman plays the voice of Gene in “Bob’s Burgers,” a young and ostentatious middle child in the Belcher family. In addition to voicing Gene, Mirman produces comedy shows and albums, as well as various collaborations with Comedy Central and Adult Swim. Two of his comedy specials are available on Netflix.

In a strange turn of events, H. Jon Benjamin began the show, although Eugene Mirman was announced beforehand as the opener. Regardless, students warmly received his performance. Benjamin thanked his audience for welcoming him by handing out souvenirs from his West New York home—dozens of packs of “Made in Taiwan” socks. After tossing the pairs of socks throughout the audience, he commented on the chaos that ensued with awe and delight.

Benjamin spoke on a wide range of topics, from his local adult store which sells a toy called “The Accommodator” to his son Judah’s nine-year-old antics. Benjamin took advantage of other performance media, such as a slideshow of Judah’s ninth birthday, an adventure in the local park involving a father-son ecstasy trip. Then, in an admitted breach of ethics, Benjamin read aloud a transcript of his son’s text messages to his best friend, Cody. At times, what was likely a typical text conversation between two nine-year-old boys had the audience in hysterics.

Mirman’s act was in many ways quite similar to Benjamin’s; both were marked by a self-deprecating, cynical humor, further improved by their two distinctive and memorable voices. The two also both began their sets centered on college topics and student issues, making jokes about Brandeis-centric themes to hint at some of the brief pre-performance research they may have done. H. Jon Benjamin tapped into his Jewish roots and jokingly referred to Brandeis as what was apparently written in his dressing room—“The ’Deis.” Mirman referenced one or two spots in Waltham or the Waltham area that existed many years ago in a tepid attempt at relating to his audience. Brandeis students certainly responded warmly to their guests’ attempts to reference such familiar parts of their lives.

Despite similarities, Mirman was markedly more of a prankster than Benjamin. Mirman, throughout much of his performance, focused on various pranks he had pulled offstage. He shared the valuable knowledge that anything laminated will appear official, and that very few individuals will go so far as to purchase a laminating machine just for fun. He read to the crowd a few of the signs he has placed in public bathrooms, ranging from church bathrooms to McDonald’s bathrooms. In another, more elaborate prank of retaliation, Mirman detailed his encounters with I-Doser, a company that boasts the best and most successful ‘digital drugs,’ soundtracks which reproduce the effects of various narcotics. Upon being legally threatened by the company for utilizing their audio and utilizing their company name in his album, “I’m Sorry (You’re Welcome),” Mirman unapologetically tore into their pseudo-science and then played comparisons of their tracks versus his. Finally, Mirman read aloud his open letter to I-Doser, a hilarious, condescending and at times blatantly rude note in response to their threat of a lawsuit.

The event was surely a hit, albeit brief. The audience was left somewhat perplexed as Mirman ended with his pilot episode of “Eugene,” a satirical show parodying Oprah’s network. Although certainly pleased to see media unavailable to the general public, the audience appeared disappointed by the short performances, which were largely dominated by pre-prepared media rather than live comedy. Regardless, the visit by H. Jon Benjamin and Eugene Mirman was incredibly well-received by the Brandeis community.

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