Silvestri Entertains Intimate Crowd
Matt McMahon | Sunday, February 9, 2014
Comedian and writer Max Silvestri took the stage at Legends on Saturday for a Student Union Board-presented stand up show. Silvestri has been featured on VH1 and has written for publications including “GQ,” “Grantland” and “AV Club.” Additionally, he covered the popular cooking competition series “Top Chef” for the food blog “Eater.”
The Student Union Board stand-up show opened with a short set by student comedian and Student Stand-Ups President Shelley Kim. Kim tackled timely topics including the Polar Bear Plunge and recent holidays, both Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day. She also discussed being a female comedian and the female president of her club. In perhaps her funniest bit of the night, Kim alluded to a portrait of “Amelia Earhart giving Janis Joplin a chest bump” laying atop her immovable ottoman, beside her “lamp,” which is really just a pile of bras on fire.
When Silvestri began his set, he immediately tested his crowd, first with an astute grammatical joke prompted by the audience’s response of “Well!” when he asked how everyone was doing, and then with some slightly more racy material. The responses to both pieces encouraged Silvestri, opening the comedian to a relaxed and upbeat hour of comedy.
Silvestri showed off his snappy delivery early in his performance. His buoyant nature kept the audience engaged for the entirety of the show, with no lulls or downtime, and logically penetrated into his material. Much of his set was based on sharing details of his childhood and personal life, while poking fun at them through a more removed lens. Though some of his revelations could have been told in an embarrassing manner, instead Silvestri joked lightheartedly at such life events as deliberately planning to eat a caramel in the shower and accidentally “Facebook-ing” a middle-school crush.
Not only did Silvestri use his maturity to get a new, comical perspective on his experiences, but he also used this angle to view things outside of his own life. His unique view led to many impressive, longwinded hypotheticals the comedian crafted based on the smallest of details. This was best represented when he went into a lengthy tangent describing the physique of a subway-goer he once had a run in with, which he assured the crowd was not integral to his joke but that he continued describing anyway. The riff started with Silvestri guessing the man’s height and weight and ended with imagining how a made-up encounter between the man and his aunt would have gone at a family party.
The comic’s playful, light tone of joke and storytelling rang similar to stand-up John Mulaney’s comedic voice, but Silvestri sets himself apart with his tendency to amble through his material. Like Mulaney, Silvestri often over-explains commonly known concepts, turning the everyday into absurdity. He also gave the same absurdist treatment to very specific, lesser-known slices of popular culture. This is not too surprising of the comedian, given the hilarious, sometimes irreverent, insight he has been able to present in his writing, including the aforementioned recaps of the Bravo series “Top Chef,” as well as other Food Network shows.
Seeing personal experiences and choice fixations on pop culture through Silvestri’s comedic scope offered the audience a lot of laughs, and a lighthearted and intimate look into the stand-up’s life.