All in the name of comedy
Adam Ramos | Thursday, September 3, 2015
Earlier this year comedy legend Jerry Seinfeld made comments regarding his refusal to perform on college campuses. Blaming the environment of hyper-sensitive political-correctness, Seinfeld is not alone in his dislike of our demographic, as both Larry the Cable Guy and Chris Rock avoid preforming at colleges. Seinfeld professed that college students “don’t know what the hell they are talking about” when using words like racist, sexist and prejudice.
While political correctness is an essential part of our community at Notre Dame, we may be going too far. With the Student Union Board’s (SUB) recent announcement about Comedy on the Quad, we must ask ourselves: is sensitivity beginning to mitigate free speech and, if so, can comedy exist in such an environment?
On Tuesday, SUB announced this year’s Comedy on the Quad stars Saturday Night Live head writer and “Weekend Update” anchor, Colin Jost. Jost boasts an impressive resume: After graduating from the prestigious Regis High School in New York City, he was admitted into Harvard where he went on to become president of Harvard Lampoon, the school’s famous humor publication. At the mere age of 22, Jost became part of the SNL writing team before working his way up to head writer. After Seth Myers landed “Late Night,” Jost found himself next in line and happily obliged.
Employing a very clean-cut approach to comedy, Jost tends to stay on the safe side of many of his jokes. Michael Che is Jost’s co-anchor on “Weekend Update,” which makes sense, as Che usually delivers on the more risqué and controversial jokes. While Jost fits the role of “Weekend Update,” conjuring past anchors like Norm McDonald, Colin Quinn and of course his predecessor, Seth Myers, Jost has yet to attain the same success. Many critics have knocked Jost for a lack of charisma, which — for a comic — is an essential quality in connecting with the audience.
However, it’s important to remember Jost is still in the process of transitioning from a writer to an entertainer, and with his track record as precedent, we have a lot to look forward to in his career. Jost’s form of sharp, shrewd comedy works well for him and his standup can be closely compared to some of John Mulaney’s routine who, like Jost, came from higher education, began writing for SNL and slowly transitioned to standup.
SUB’s decision to go with Colin Jost makes a lot of sense. The high sensitivity levels on campus coupled with the location of the show on South Quad all point to Jost’s style of comedy. While a comedian with more success at standup would have been great, a subdued comedian modifying his routine in order to fit the parameters of the show would have been disappointing. Jost will be able to present most of his jokes and no one will leave the show offended (well, hopefully not a lot).
As a final PSA, I urge anyone going to see the show: please, for the sake of preserving one of my favorite pastimes, don’t take the jokes too seriously. Look, everybody has a line for what’s appropriate and what’s not, but don’t put yours next to every single controversial issue. Society runs smoothly when we can all take a step back and take a moment to find the humor in those touchy subjects we tend to avoid discussing. Jost’s aim will not be to offend the student body, but he may say some jokes that make you a bit uncomfortable, and that’s just the nature of the beast. Comedy on the Quad is already shaping up to be a great show for everyone at Notre Dame to enjoy — try your hardest to make that the reality.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.