I hurried into Kresge Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday evening and found a seat near the front. Kresge was three-fourths full and the audience generated a consistent buzz of high energy in a room with good acoustics. The show started on Knox time, five minutes late. The audience hushed. The opening act, senior Pam Schuller, who spent part of her winter break performing in New York, was introduced.
Schuller, “the Jewish midget with Tourettes” for anyone who has not had the privilege of watching her perform, came on to applause and hooting. She’s been cleaning up her act, she said, but her act isn’t clean. The audience tittered through most of it, interrupted not infrequently by loud, braying laughter. When I talked to her after the show she said she was doing all new material, and having trouble keeping her thoughts straight because with her ear infection she could hardly hear herself. From where I sat, though, she sounded good.
Schuller then introduced Jeff Dye, a comedian who won third place on NBC’s Last Comic Standing, spent a year working for Family Guy, and had just been hired by Saturday Night Live. He came on stage and it was immediately apparent that he knew how to fill up the stage and grab an audience’s attention. Schuller was in a nice outfit, black pants and a sweater over a black and white baby doll top, while Dye wore a brown t-shirt with a hawk over a black long-sleeved shirt and dark blue jeans, with the intentional manly stubble. Young and skinny, he looked like he could be one of us.
Dye started by teasing Pam good-naturedly, and then moved into his routine of bizarre stories. The laughter got louder for him. He made fun of men, women, gays, Jews, Christians, L.A., Seattle, rappers, voters, American culture and advertising, but mostly he made fun of himself. He told us he should be good at basketball. “I’m 6’4”, 6’9” with heels,” he said, but an old man he plays with can cream him.
When Dye got political, people quieted down a bit. A liberal like most of his audience, he voted for Obama. He poked fun at himself as a way of poking fun at a lot of America, which is “too dumb to vote.” Maybe this part of his act will be more entertaining later, but right now politics are not so easy to laugh at.
Towards the end he told us, “I’m funny and they give me money. I feel like I’m getting away with something every night.” Maybe I liked him partly because he seemed so earnest.
After the show everyone seemed to have had a favorable impression. I overheard one student expressing her relief that his humor had not been reliant on blowjob jokes. Freshman Matt Becker said, “He was good. I mean, there were some offensive parts, but overall I liked him.” Matt was still cracking up about Jeff Dye’s closing piece. Both Dye and Schuller told me they were pleased with how the evening went.