Left to right: Comedians Ron Funches, Nick Vatterott, and Michael Ian Black perform in Strong Auditorium on Saturday, Sept. 6.

New and returning students packed Strong Auditorium on Saturday for one of the highlights of Yellowjacket Weekend: a night of irreverent humor with comedians Michael Ian Black, Ron Funches, and Nick Vatterott.

Vatterott, an alum of Chicago’s “Second City” comedy troupe who has also performed on “Conan” and “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”, opened with a quasi-cautionary yarn about the hilarity that ensued when, while intoxicated, he took a stranger’s grocery receipt. Perhaps like many other freshmen in the room, I found the story an amusingly jarring contrast to the rules and safety guidelines the University presented during Orientation less than a week before. Keeping the spontaneity of his act going, he then went on to plug his phone into the speakers onstage, blasting new age music or, as he called it, “the music of the future. It goes like this for forty-five minutes,” he said gleefully. Thankfully, he didn’t leave it on that long.This is also the kind of music, Vatterott explained, that he often hears in the unconventional new brunch spots that confuse him. He provided a sample dialogue between himself and a tranquil waiter:

“Where’s the menu?”

“There is no menu.”

“How do I order?”

“You just did,” he intoned with a mock-placid smile and a sweeping gesture of the arms. Eateries with pretentious, monosyllabic names like “Eat” or “Leaf” annoy him, as do anticlimactic “catches of the day” like cod – instead, he would prefer the thrilling tale of a murderous “mahi-mahi the size of a manatee-manatee.”

After Vatterott’s riotous gastronomic musings came the disjointed ponderings of Ron Funches, uttered in a quiet voice and punctuated by giggling that seemed to attract more laughter from the audience than any of the actual punch lines. Funches, who has guest-starred on “New Girl” and currently holds a series regular role on NBC’s “Undateable”, went all over the place with his act, from his hypothetical use of a time machine (blowing a dinosaur’s mind with Pepsi) to his thoughts on keeping up his long-distance relationship with his son (awkward phone conversations abounded). The laughter in the audience became more incredulous as Funches’s act moved quietly on. In fact, the only time his voice rose above a murmur was when he shouted out a one-line poem: “I DON’T NEED NO NEW FRIENDS.” As Funches explained, sharing his own thoughts struck him as very brave.

It’s perhaps understandable, then, that the crowd was slightly tentative when Michael Ian Black took the stage. However, after a slow start, during which Black declared us “literally the most unresponsive audience ever”, the humor took off. Black poked fun at his situation, filling in for John Mulaney, praising the other’s recent success before wryly noting, “And that’s why I’m here.” Despite his claim that his work is in “having shows cancelled,” Black is no stranger to success himself: he is one of the hosts of TBS’s “Trust Me, I’m a Game Show Host” and the author of several books. Black also seemed to do the best job of actively connecting with the audience, asking questions about popular majors and campus controversies. When informed of the incomplete Brooks Crossing and the impatience of the students currently housed in hotels, he advised them to quit griping, saying that they’ll get to return to their “ten-by-ten concrete bunkers” soon enough. Black also managed to insert some local humor, commenting on the “special” wings at a local restaurant: he was rather disappointed when the waitress informed him that they were “just chicken wings.” Black seemed to share Vatterott’s irritation with boring specials.

All in all, Yellowjacket Weekend provided an excellent welcome back to campus after the busy first week of the semester. An evening of laughs is perhaps just what everyone needed as we embark on another challenging, stimulating year. When the going gets tough, we’ll be able to draw encouragement and motivation from Black’s definitive words on Brooks Crossing: “This isn’t Sochi. You’re going to be fine.”

Geba is a member of

the class of 2018.



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