In light of Yellowjacket Weekend, the Campus Activities Board hosted Saturday Night Live (SNL) comedians Vanessa Bayer and Jay Pharoah for a Saturday night complete with impersonations, racist jokes, and bursts of raucous laughter from a full house.
Before Bayer and Pharoah made their way to the stage, local comedian Dan Viola opened the show with a few attempted jokes, ranging from the unkeptness of Strong Auditorium (for example, “Is this dust from World War I?”) and a breakdown of wooing and serenading his wife in different languages.
Since his skit only managed a few chuckles here and there, anyone who arrived to the show late did not miss much.
SNL has a deep-rooted history in discovering and developing hilarious artists, and Bayer and Pharoah are no exceptions. Both three-year veterans, Bayer is well known for her Miley Cyrus impersonation, and Pharoah is known for his uncanny depiction of President Barack Obama.
Naturally, both comedians performed their respective spoof to the audience’s expectations.
Yet between Bayer and Pharoah, it was immediately clear who was more lively, proficient, and effective at stand-up.
For her skit, Bayer essentially led the audience through her college years up until the crucial point of her SNL audition. She concluded her long story with the day she found out she was accepted into the show.
According to Bayer, a woman from SNL called her a few days after her audition to tell her she was on the show.
The woman casually asked how she was doing that day.
After Bayer responded, “I’m really tired,” the woman said, “Well, I hope you’re not too tired to come back to New York City.”
Bayer said that she almost shot the offer down.
Retrospectively, she wondered what would have happened if she had responded that she was “just too tired.”
Pharoah, on the other hand, brilliantly executed a continuous stream of jokes that felt threaded together yet disparate.
His impressions of Eddie Murphy, Eminem, Trey Songz, and Lil Wayne was natural and spot on.
He mentioned how, on one occasion, Will Smith said to him, “Yo Jay, I don’t think you sound like me,” and Pharoah looked at him, grabbed his ears with his hands, and responded, in Smith’s voice, “Yo, Will, stop playin’.”
Best of all, Pharoah masterfully blended sincerity and hilarity into the entirety of his set to the audible enjoyment of the audience.
He concluded the show with a special tribute to a family friend who had passed away earlier that week. He reminded the audience to live life to the fullest and appreciate everyday.
Though hardly a novel piece of advice, the message struck home, and as students and other attendees slowly shuffled out of the auditorium after the night’s performance, their undeniable energy and sense of excitement reflected this sentiment precisely.
Kerem is a member of the class of 2015.