This past Friday, Stephen Lynch performed in Strong Auditorium as part of the Winterfest celebrations. Since I’d never heard of him and had never even seen a live comedian before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Famous for turning obscene comedy routines into catchy, yet at times corny, musical pieces, Lynch certainly had a strong fan base in Rochester.
There was hardly an empty seat in the auditorium, which was somewhat encouraging because I figured that if so many people enjoyed his comedy, then I would, too.
But I was rather repulsed by much of his material, which ranged from making light of sex, religion and people with special needs. Yet, more than once, he was able to make me laugh.
Lynch opened his show with a song about AIDS, which gave me a fair impression of what to expect for the duration of his show. Not afraid to throw out lewd suggestions or curse words, he had the auditorium echoing with laughter and appreciative applause. Many people in attendance sang along to some of the songs he performed. Again, I suppose my lack of familiarity with his work turned me into a rather judgmental audience member.
While others laughed as he made light of the deaths of Anne Frank and Christopher Reeves, I was unable to find anything remotely funny about his statements. Later in the show, Lynch’s one-liner, within a song about being a sidekick, mocked the Holocaust. This time, the reaction was silence, and he swiftly moved on to new material.
Lynch’s song about Craig Christ, the supposed brother of Jesus, was quite entertaining, and I found myself immensely enjoying the lyrics. But, I wonder if I would have enjoyed the song if I were Christian or had a stronger religious background. His song about Satan was equally entertaining, but it was difficult for me to truly enjoy other parts of his show.
I suppose, with comedy, you have to be comfortable with controversial material being turned into jokes. To me, it seemed as though Lynch was hideously mocking serious matters as opposed to transferring it into light humor.
My favorite part of the performance was probably the song about AIDS that Lynch opened the show with, because the lyrics highlighted the stupidity of people as opposed to making fun of the disease itself.
But as someone who has personally volunteered to work with special needs children, particularly kids with autism, I thought his song titled ‘Special Ed” was in extremely poor taste.
Perhaps I am an oversensitive person, but I was unable to sit back and genuinely laugh at issues that, to me anyway, should never have been turned into comedy routines in the first place.
Lynch definitely failed to show me the humor in the subject of the Holocaust which even in years to come will always be one of the more serious misfortunes that affected the world. This doesn’t mean that Lynch wasn’t a success. His concert was met with whistles, cheers and loud laughter.
Many people seemed extremely enthusiastic about his performance and cheered whenever their favorite song would come on. For me, I was unable to be amused by his humor. While I’m glad that I can now say I’ve had the experience of seeing a live comedian, I doubt it’s something I will be doing again in the near future.
Leonard is a member of the class of 2013.