Playing to a packed house in Kendall Hall on Thursday night, a triple threat of notable comedians plowed their way through off-color jokes to mixed results at the College Union Board’s Welcome Week Comedy Show.
Amy Schumer, Pete Dominick and Dwayne Perkins ran through sets that pandered to the College’s students, riffing on roommate problems and gender issues, with a slew of sex jokes.
Most of their routines connected with the crowd, with prolonged fits of uncontrollable laughter echoing throughout the night.
Yet, the three performers tended to push the limits of good taste and frequently teetered on the edge of offensiveness. While much of the material hit the right notes, there were too many that fell flat.
Schumer, of “Last Comic Standing” and “Reality Bites Back” fame, led off the night and set the tone early. With a set that covered everything from superstitions to breast-feeding, Schumer was skittish throughout the night and had trouble developing a clear rhythm.
A strong rapport with the crowd helped: At one point, she hilariously (and apparently correctly) pointed out the “leader” of a clique of girls seated in the front row.
Her goofy charm did allow her to salvage a handful of weak punch lines, but Schumer’s act would have been more successful had she steered away from aimless vulgarity and found a direction for her anecdotes. Instead, she ended up doing a decent imitation of Sarah Silverman’s shock-inducing style.
Dominick followed, cobbling together a seemingly improvised act. The spontaneity worked for Dominick, who was a ticking bomb of self-deprecation, outspokenness and unbridled anger.
“I’m following my dream up here,” he yelled at an audience member who had been texting during his set.
That outburst was the first of many to follow, but whenever the comedian picked another victim to berate, the student – and the surrounding crowd – were in stitches.
Dominick eventually moved on to jokes about his own baldness, naming babies and, in the funniest bit of the night, the terrifying nature of the German language. His delivery may have been all blustery angst, but Dominick’s routine was smooth, layered and deeply funny. He even did a fierce Dane Cook impression.
Headliner Perkins has made the rounds on the comedy circuit, even snagging his own special on Comedy Central. His act was noticeably more polished as a result, with less unplanned material and a higher ratio of punch lines.
Perkins nailed a good number of his jokes, especially during bits where he riffed on commonplace occurrences like roommate confrontations and the privileges of being attractive.
He topped off the show by moonwalking, causing the crowd to go wild.
Perkins’ routine should have been a high point, yet despite his best intentions, parts of his set were wildly inappropriate. A running joke about rape was disgusting and uncalled for, casting an uncomfortable cloud on the rest of the set.
Like Schumer, who talked about abortion, eating disorders and deafness without a shred of sensitivity, Perkins pushed too far to grasp for those extra few laughs, sadly ruining his momentum.
It’s understandable that these comedians dipped into X-rated humor to both appeal to the College audience and land some button-pushing laughs. Unfortunately, too many jokes resorted to a forced sense of poor taste to earn an easily manipulated reaction.
The manic Dominick was (bald) head and shoulders above his fellow comedians.