A comedy act

Last Thursday, Chapelle’s Show came to Carnegie Mellon — part of it, at least. Bill Burr, a comedian for Chapelle’s Show, was this year’s first-ever Homecoming comedian. Burr spoke candidly on stage for almost an hour as if having a casual conversation with the audience. Before Burr’s candor took the stage, however, the Carnegie Mellon Variety Hour, a student comedy group, served as the opening act.

Six students performed in the improvisation act by the Variety Hour. The group did three segments, the first of which was “3–2–1.” After asking for suggestions from the audience, the winning topic was Cleveland. The six divided into teams of two and each put on a skit. First there were three skits that were then reduced to two then to one by audience voting with round of applause. The winning skit was a news hour done by Ellen Hyland, a senior mechanical engineering major, and Liana Rosenberg, a junior social and decision sciences major, that discussed Cleveland, including everything from the city being the armpit of the world to its cleavage.

In their second segment, “Tagline,” the Variety Hour did an act based at a porn movie set. The final segment was “Puppets,” in which two members of the audience were brought up to the stage to completely control the motions of two of the student performers while the students spoke extemporaneously in the setting of a doctor’s office.

The audience energy from the Variety Hour was high and served as a great transition into Burr.

After a short introduction, Burr came onstage and immediately began his act. He began by mocking the flower decorations on stage.

“I bet someone spent time picking out these ferns,” Burr said.

Burr said that the university had probably had the flowers out for another occasion and then just left them out for his act.

Burr’s first big topic was the election. After making the statement that the election is worse than Sex and the City, Burr began talking about the candidates, focusing particularly on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

On Obama, Burr commented on his race.

“People never mention that he’s half-black,” Burr said. “He’d really be like our 43rd and a half white president.”

As for Clinton, Burr did not hide his opinion on a woman serving as president.
He mentioned a difference in quality of a woman’s voice when spoken out loud in that it sounds like whining, as opposed to a man’s authoritative tone. He also mentioned the differences in outfits in that the biggest issue for a woman is deciding which button-down blouse to wear.

“Women should just show more cleavage,” Burr said, in that cleavage gets things accomplished.

In all of his jokes, Burr had no boundaries as to his level of cursing and crudeness. At times, his language and level of propriety interfered with his message.

Burr did an excellent job however in showing his personality through his later jokes.

He talked about his late-night habits of staying on YouTube until 4 in the morning and seeing animals eat things, watching infomercials on men offering to take old jewelry and send back cash, and flipping through reality shows.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of seeing obese people crying on TV,” Burr said. “Put 20 starving people in a house and I’ll feel sad.”

Burr said that he is trying to be a less angry person.

As for his personal side, Burr mentioned that he had just been to his grandmother’s 100th birthday.

“She’s still sharp,” Burr said. “She’s not like those old men who are so old that they have that permanent look of horror like that chick from The Ring just crawled out.”

Burr also mentioned his girlfriend and talked of marriage.

“I’ve been with this girl for five years and I love her, but I just can’t get married. I think I’m allergic,” he said.

Burr’s openness on his personal life was representative of the open nature of his whole act. Most of Burr’s jokes seemed well received by the audience, yet they were not for the faint of heart — the majority of the jokes tottered on crudeness, profanity, and impropriety as Burr spoke naturally.

Burr served as a good opener to a new series of annual Homecoming comedians, brought to the university by AB Comedy. There is no telling who next year will bring.