“Is there a reviewer from the student paper here?” comedian, actor and writer Joe Mande asked toward the end of his set. “Because I will give you 20 dollars to say this was good.”
Sketch Writing and Acting Group (SWAG) — with help from Sketched Out and Not Very Funny, and funded by ASG — hosted Mande on Friday night in Hall Auditorium as an event filled with humor and funny musical numbers.
Mande was a writer for “Parks & Recreation” and made a few cameo appearances in the show as minor character Morris Lerpiss, as well as acting in “Brooklyn Nine Nine” and “Modern Family.” He currently writes for NBC’s “The Good Place.”
While laughs and snickers filled the auditorium, not everyone was pleased with the show. On multiple occasions, I heard gasps and surprised remarks from my seat. Needless to say, I did not leave with the 20 dollars.
“Thanks for having me, but also, you’re welcome,” Mande said as soon as he took the stage.
This statement set the mood for the night as it was filled with crude humor that either sparked a roar of laughter or left half of the audience shaking their heads in disbelief and thinking, did he really just say that?
The crowd was engaged and responsive to Mande’s remarks throughout the night as he joked about his own experiences, his jealousy of rappers and his take on how standup comedy works. He explained that performing standup is like digging yourself into an awkward situation and relying on yourself alone to climb back out.
And about halfway into the show, Mande dug himself the biggest hole of all. He began to rant about Republican government officials and finished the line with, “All Nazis are Republican.” This comment was thoughtless, inappropriate and only the first of his questionable material. The tension only grew from this moment on.
The whole set deserved a solid, generous “A-” until he decided to award Al Qaeda the same grade for their attacks on 9/11. Not cool. Giving credit to terrorist groups is not my definition of a joke, and definitely not a funny one at that. For good reason, several people in the crowd winced at the comment, and a few groaned aloud. Two rows in front of me, a student’s father looked over at her and I heard him clearly state, “That was not funny at all.”
Fans of “SNL” and “Parks & Recreation” came for a night of good comedy, but they were let down by a comedian whose remarks were were neither funny nor clever, and alienated audience members as a result.
The show’s lone redeeming factor was opening act Luke Null with his interesting arrangement of original songs. Null is a new cast member for “Saturday Night Live” and has appeared in a few sketches and in the opening credits of the show.
Accompanied by his guitar, Null engaged the crowd with lyrics that were clever in a not-what-you-expected sort of way.
Thanks to an all-too-familiar story about an ex-girlfriend that attended Miami and an encounter with a bouncer on High St., his material was relatable and created an interactive atmosphere. His lines were often self-deprecating. In return, the crowd responded well. A hilarious ode to his love interest, Taco Bell, was the icing on the cake of his performance.
To me, it was clear that Luke Null should have headlined.