Many were lured by the prospect of seeing “that guy” from Vh1’s popular “I Love the…” series. Some were die-hard “The State” fans itching for nostalgia. Others liked the idea of cheap entertainment on a Monday night.
Whatever preemptive expectations audience members arrived with on Sept. 21 at Kendall Main Stage Theatre, “The Awesome Life of Michael Ian Black” served the College with more crudeness and sarcasm than they were anticipating.
Black strolled onto stage — in attire he would later admit made him look like he “works in a Verizon Store”— to thunderous applause.
Despite his somewhat delicate demeanor, Black addressed the audience with a strong, powerful voice.
In an interview preceding the show, Black stated that the dynamics of college performances aren’t much different than his normal stand-up.
“If the joke works, I think it will work for all audiences, as long as you don’t mind me talking about shitting on your tits. If you’re that kind of audience, it might not work,” Black said.
With physical demonstrations to accompany the concept, Black ultimately decided that Kendall’s audience wasn’t that kind of crowd.
The crowd’s accepting applause spurred the introduction of other crude brainchildren, such as the “Bro-Job” and “gummy testicles” called “gum balls.”
Black’s sarcastic brand of wit was magnified by his blunt quips on topics ranging from his children’s non-creative Halloween costumes to The Signal’s headlines.
Though Black insisted in the interview that he was unsure where he found inspiration, it became clear as his act progressed that his everyday life provides infinite substance.
“It’s a question that comedians and artists in general get asked a lot … I don’t know that there’s a way to generate ideas. They’re like quirks. They just sort of exist. And it’s your job to find them, and I run them through the particle accelerator of my mind,” Black said.
Straying from the path of former comedians performing at the College, Black initially discussed the location of the College, rather than its name, after a “terrifying” journey to the show.
“Trenton, New Jersey, where hope comes to die, we don’t think we’re radioactive … It’s a scary fucking place you go to school,” he later added, “I know why you call it, ‘The College of New Jersey,’ because you can’t call it College of Trenton.”
Showing off his pre-show research, Black further connected with the all-too-eager audience over the recent parking debacles and the drunken escapades appearing in “Cop Shop.” Black maintained his collected countenance as he acted out the latter.
A New Jersey native, Black brought sincerity to his hatred of his home state.
“I got the fuck out as soon as I could … I know there is a lot of N.J. pride here, but it’s misplaced,” Black said, getting even the loudest Jersey enthusiast to chuckle.
Though he delivered the same sardonic, nearly arrogant tone characteristic of his former work on the sketch comedy show “The State” and Comedy Central’s “Michael and Michael Have Issues,” Black proved surprisingly spirited as the night progressed. Ending with an anecdote about skydiving, Black held the audience’s attention until the anti-climatic end. Only a true master of comedy could end a show successfully with a vomit-induced failed attempt at manliness.
Comedy Central’s favorite “roaster,” Greg Giraldo, opened the night with a roast of nearly everything, ranging from alternative fuel and health care to individual audience members.
Giraldo established a trend of interaction with the audience for the night, which began with the interruption of a joke on stem cell research by two disoriented latecomers. As the two hovered in front of the stage trying to find their seats, Giraldo finally couldn’t overcome the distraction.
“Can I get you a marching band to walk you in?” he asked.
Giraldo turned distraction into a positive by incorporating audience members’ input as they chimed in. Though rougher in appearance than his following act, Giraldo’s relaxed attitude created an unconventional comfort between the comedian and the audience.
“I like how Greg Giraldo can just take jokes from the audience. He’s really funny,” said freshman finance major Gina Holzheimer.
The audience seemed as good-humored as the comedian as he singled out students, despite Giraldo’s assertion that, “This is why I can’t do college shows. You kids are too nice.”
Though Giraldo depended on crudity and racial stereotypes for a majority of his act, the shock of his jokes left many in uncontrollable fits of laughter. The distance of the stage seemed to lighten the offensive content and grant vast creative freedom, a fact Black addressed in the interview.
“You’re beholden only to the audience, which obviously is a big thing to be beholden to. Once you get onto stage, no one is going to kick you off,” he said.