Jerry Seinfeld famously proclaimed the college comedy scene to be too politically correct, driving performers away. On Monday, Sept. 25, comedian Josh Day proclaimed “fuck Jerry Seinfield” to cheers as he introduced that night’s comedy show at Chum’s.
Day, along with his co-producer, Adam Landau ’20, and WBRS, has presented several comedy shows at Brandeis before; most recently a “March Comedy Madness” which was held in a Rosie. Monday’s show followed the same structure as these previous shows, with several opening acts leading up to the headliner Reena Calm.
Day introduced the show with a set of his own, setting the tone with a joke about having a threesome with his co-producer’s grandparents and a series of punny one-liners. The quality of these jokes varied, but Day’s confidence carried him through. With a huge head of hair, he created a presence on stage which was as funny as any of his material.
He left the stage introducing opener Alex Williams who started with patter about Judaism but moved quickly into a routine about his dominance on Tinder, as demonstrated by his connection with a girl who only wanted thousands of dollars to continue chatting. Using this rep as a ladies’ man, he continued on to give advice about how to talk to girls, advice he learned from a “Ranger Alex.” One particularly memorable piece: “Remember, they’re more scared of you than you are of them.” The routines were solid, presenting the persona of a desperate, lonely guy with a wink to the audience and enough punchlines to prevent it from getting simply depressing. Williams, however, tended to improvise material which took him away from his planned jokes with a stumble as he switched back on course, which was a pity as his improvisations were more confident than the planned pieces.
Phoebe Angle followed with a much less planned routine, which meandered between commentary on Brandeis and her own stories with an almost conversational style. She started with a routine about the variety of catcalling she’s endured and a commentary on the prevalence of “thicc” and wondering who came up with the idea to refer to “women in terms of density instead of weight.” This led into a (rightful) wondering why Brandeis still has dark alleys, like the one leading up to Chum’s itself, and then why the event had so little seating. The latter didn’t involve much joking per se, but that’s only because the seating was so absurd. There were seats for around fifteen audience members while a little less than twice that crowded the back wall standing up. And, for some reason, there were two stools on stage for the event which involved one person performing at a time (they both went unused). Angle capped off her bit with an amusing routine about the perennial target of comedy, the hipster, mocking how seriously many of them take their tattoos. Slightly different than Angle’s explanations for hers: bad decisions.
The “featured” Matt Barry came next, talking about his romantic life and career. He commented on the fact his age and lack of a family meant he’s more likely to be a step-father than a father, but that he enjoys that fact because it’ll give him a “trial period” with the child (it also set up a later pay-off of “call me stepdaddy” during the description of a romantic encounter). Much of the set revolved around the fact that, despite Barry being older than much of the audience, he still lived much of the college lifestyle and the difficulties of maintaining it in a more adult world. He described confusing a doctor when he had to tell them how much he smoked (a quarter zip a week), and the complications of hiding the fact he was high at work, which eventually involved faking family members’ deaths.
The main event, headliner Reena Calm, came last. Like Angle, she touched on many topics responding to audience reactions, though she largely told humorous stories and speeches rather than relying on shorter gags. She told stories about her past performances, many of which revolved around her interactions with the audience after her show, such as learning one person (in Wisconsin) had lied about being Jewish and her numerous proposals to have her ass eaten after telling jokes about not understanding the appeal (the punchline in those stories came from the bewildered reactions to the rejection). Calm also described her sexual experience with a younger man (like kissing a golden retriever), her frustration with being told to deny men sex (meaning she didn’t get any either), her experiences with molly (awesome), and much more. Admittedly, the beginning of many of her jokes didn’t land, perhaps because of the college audience, but she was able to pivot on most premises to pull out punchlines which did work.
It was a fun night of comedy. And while the show kicked off by a denunciation of Seinfeld and a ancestral-orgy joke was rather… mature throughout, the performers kept a good sense of their audience, backing off of bits that got too dark (coming home to a dead neighbor while on molly) and pushing harder into ones that did resonate (weed jokes).