Charlyne Yi offends first-years

Comedian Charlyne Yi put on a surprising show for students during Orientation week. (credit: Jennifer Coloma/Operations Manager) Comedian Charlyne Yi put on a surprising show for students during Orientation week. (credit: Jennifer Coloma/Operations Manager)

Comedian Charlyne Yi made a visit to Carnegie Mellon Friday night as part of the slew of activities planned for first-years during this year’s Orientation week. Yi, whose performances focus on music, games, and audience participation, is known for her performance in her screenwriting debut Paper Heart and her role as Dr. Chi in the medical drama House.

Despite her list of impressive achievements, Yi’s show was fairly disappointing. Her stage presence was constantly lacking, and she relied heavily on multimedia clips and a notecard in her pocket. The clips she played ranged from boring to inappropriate, and her final clip was offensive enough to send audience members out of Rangos Hall at record speed.

Some of the best laughs in Yi’s show came from her special guest, John the Psychic. John played well into the Carnegie Mellon dynamic and spent most of his short time in front of the audience asking questions and making sexually crude comments. Near the end of his segment, he went around Rangos pointing at various students, saying, “You’re a virgin ... and you’re a virgin ... and you’re a virgin,” until one student cheered in agreement.

Although both John the Psychic and Yi used crude humor for laughs, John seemed to be more in tune with the audience and was more entertaining.

Yi seemed to have a tough time capturing the undivided attention of the room because of her timid behavior, incessant use of the word “um,” and unclear plan for the show. Initially the audience responded to Yi’s act with appropriate laughter, but as the show continued, the audience seemed to grow bored of her routine.

After sharing her birthing video, one audience member shouted, “What the f***?” and Yi’s response was to laugh and exclaim, “Now you know where babies come from!” In the same vein, the students were the saving graces of Yi’s show, with their wit and occasional well-placed comments emerging from the otherwise silent crowd.

Toward the start of the show, Yi claimed her boyfriend had dumped her, so she was left looking for somewhere to stay, to which a male student shouted, “Hamerschlag!” This instigated cheers from the audience, even though the joke was completely lost on Yi.

After the show was over, AB Comedy Chair and senior economics major Bryan Wade commented on the possibility of students finding the show offensive, saying, “possibly, but it’s college.” Wade defended AB Comedy’s choice of comedians. “She has a kind of unique style appropriate for Carnegie Mellon,” he said.

Backstage after the show, Yi kept repeating, “I scarred everyone,” and, “I feel bad that people left.” When asked if most audiences respond to her birthing clip in a similar manner, Yi explained that reactions to the clip are very mixed, and that in Los Angeles she usually follows up the clip with a piece on the harp to help the audience mellow back out, but here in Pittsburgh, she had no such harp.

While not a complete disappointment, Yi’s show was difficult to connect with and seemed unorganized. Many individuals found her offbeat humor entertaining, but the audience as a whole seemed unimpressed with her performance.