Friedlander sports black-belt comedic skills
The weather was warm, everyone was happy, and laughs were flowing freely last Thursday during “Comedy Central on Campus,” a show presented by AB Comedy.
The cast of the show was the true definition of triple threat: Judah Friedlander, Nick Vatterott, and Jermaine Fowler. They performed for a crowd under the standing-room-only white tent on Midway.
Fowler is a familiar face to those who frequent the comedy website CollegeHumor. Fowler opened the show with a short, 20-minute bit. His routine was not as impressive or as polished as those of the other two; it seemed to be just vaguely strung together.
While that strategy worked later for Friedlander, who went from one one-liner to the next during the first part of his performance, Fowler couldn’t pull it off. Admittedly, he’s younger and less experienced, but it seemed as if he were trying a style of performance that he wasn’t used to. He left the stage after a five-minute blast of jokes that was energetic but random and handed the show over to Vatterott.
Vatterott’s work up to this point has primarily included writing gigs and making guest appearances on Conan, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and the Comedy Central show Mash Up. Vatterott’s routine was perhaps the most entertaining; it was well timed, quick witted, and right on par with the crowd’s appetite for comedy.
Fowler then returned to the stage to introduce Friedlander. The headliner of the show, Friedlander is perhaps the best known of the three due to his role on the popular NBC comedy show 30 Rock, which just ended in January. His character on the show, Frank Rossitano, is very similar to the one that he portrays during his stand-up comedy routines: a sloppy, hat-obsessed deadpan humorist who exaggerates stories about himself.
Friedlander’s routine centered on the premise that as “World Champion,” he was going to run for President of the United States. He walked the audience through a hilarious rundown of his platform, and then invited the audience to ask questions.
Friedlander’s quick and witty responses to the questions demonstrated his amazing ability to think on his feet and work with the crowd. Even as the audience threw curveballs such as questions about Tina Fey, Iraq, and — perhaps most eloquent moment of the evening — his genitals, Friedlander stayed one step ahead and kept the audience laughing at the outlandishness of his larger-than-life character. His quirky, weird sense of humor was so absurd that there was nothing to do but enjoy the ride.
The comedian took the majority of the time to discuss his simplified plans for taking over the world, which involved moving the Midwest to north of Canada, using karate skills to intimidate America’s enemies, and legalizing heroin to make legalizing marijuana easier. He advertised his nonexistent karate instruction book, which, according to his performance, solves just about any problem and makes anyone physically stronger.
Friedlander not only invited questions and responded to them, but also picked people out of the audience and adapted the routine to the personalities of his listeners. He invited photographers up on stage, questioned boys about the girls that they were sitting next to, and made fun of the majors that people called out.
All three of the performers personalized the show for Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon, citing the campus food, hipster environments, and robotics department. The audience was receptive and excited, which seemed to make the show all the more fun.
When it comes down to it, you know a show is funny when a comedian is laughing at it, and that’s exactly what happened. As Vatterott and Friedlander performed, Fowler stood on the side with a bottle of water and enjoyed the show with everyone else. His signature cackle at his fellow comedians’ best jokes was possibly the highlight of the show. The show was as great as the weather that night and was a great start to Carnival 2013.