In an enthusiastic response to the start of the semester, hoards of students packed Kendall Hall on Thursday, Sept. 1 for the College Union Board’s “Three for Free Comedy Show.” Featuring Amy Anderson, Eric O’Shea and Hari Kondabolu, the show succeeded in drawing big laughs from the crowd, starting this semester’s series of campus events off on the right foot.
Anderson, who was pushed onstage by O’Shea in a spinning chair, began the night by announcing to the crowd that she had finally gotten her big break — she was going to be adopted by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
“If Brad Pitt were my adopted father, I would do shit to get punished,” Anderson joked, slapping her butt to emphasize her point.
Anderson explained that, in reality, she was born in South Korea (“the nice Korea”) before being adopted by her American parents, whose Midwest accents she mimicked throughout the show.
Her website hails her as a “skinny Margaret Cho” and a “heterosexual Ellen,” to which she replied in an interview, “I have to change that now that Margaret Cho’s skinny again. It’s fine because I love both of those people.”
Anderson is also a graduate of the prestigious Westminster Choir College in nearby Princeton, where she earned her B.A. in
classical music. When asked why she chose to pursue comedy instead, Anderson said, “There was this little thing of me not being good enough. I knew by junior year it wasn’t my calling. I was doing all classical music, people were too serious. Now it’s all joking all the time.”
Following Anderson was O’Shea, who joked that he was “the white guy in the show.” His routine contained jokes about his family, where he referred to his mother as “half Italian, half Anti-Christ” and complained about his bratty young nephew. He also amused the crowd with a spot-on Elmo impression, complained about slow drivers and, of course, made jokes about sex.
He ended with a performance of “Songs for Commercials,” in which he showed the audience which songs he would use to advertise products. He had previously performed the skit on YouTube and at the 2009 Creative Emmy Awards.
O’Shea has been performing the college circuit for 15 years. In an interview, he explained how challenging the college venue can be for a comedian.
“The students have seen the best of the best on YouTube and what they like, and they are a little bit politically correct and for some reason want a little bit of crazy. It’s fun to walk that line. It makes you really work,” he said.
Closing out that night was Kondabolu, whose humor had a decidedly more political slant than his predecessors. Early into his set he referred to God as an “absentee landlord” and explained that “Two brown people cannot create a fucking Swedish tennis player” during a joke about the West’s tendency to depict a Caucasian Jesus Christ. He later commented on the country’s prejudices, citing the controversy over the construction of an Islamic community center near Ground Zero and his own battles with ethnic stereotyping —
telling the crowd that he was once billed as “rice, laughs, and curry sauce” on an advertisement poster for a college that he visited.
None of his material was surprising however, considering his educational background. According to his website, Kondabolu received his B.A. in Comparative Politics from Bowdoin College and his M.A. in Human Rights from the London School of Economics. He is also a former immigrants’ rights activist.
When asked how he combines his more serious interests with his comedy, he replied, “My comedic voice echoes my education and the things I believe. I’ve had the privilege of having fans that share my ideas.”