Comedian pushes boundaries in offbeat set

By Michelle Lampariello
Editor-In-Chief

Comedian, actor and podcast star Chris D’Elia shared his commentary on everything from drive-by shootings to his two yorkies during the College Union Board’s fall comedy show on Oct. 10 in Kendall Hall’s Main Stage Theater.

D’Elia singles out an audience member trying to record his show. (Meagan McDowell / Photo Editor)

D’Elia got the crowd laughing by pointing out the venue’s “spooky” run-down vibe. Gesturing toward the light fixtures on the walls, he ridiculed the “awful” chandeliers for their small size and commented on their placement next to the theater’s “prison windows.” He said that the stage “was not dressed up at all,” and that a series of fake staircases used in unrelated theater productions were haphazardly decorating the stage.

As soon as D’Elia took the stage, he noticed the youngest member of the crowd, 1-year-old Alena. He was shocked to hear the cries of an infant at one of his shows, but ran with the idea and quickly turned the situation into a joke.

“I’ve never heard a baby cry at my show before,” he said. “I was like, ‘is that a sheep?’”

D’Elia explained to the audience that he once growled at an infant in a mall who he felt looked at him wrong the way. When D’Elia approached the infant, the baby did not stop staring at the comedian’s face. D’Elia was frustrated that the baby’s lack of politeness and warned that this meant the baby “was not ready for the world.”

The comedian explained that he growled at the baby before he considered the consequences of his actions. After snarling at the child, he panicked when it screamed and its mother turned around.

“I said ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with your baby. I didn’t do anything, and you’re obviously raising it wrong — you’re a bad mom.’ And then I nervously walked into a Forever 21,” D’Elia said.

D’Elia called out several audience members throughout his set, including one person who attempted to record the show.

“Hey, you over there — I see you recording me,” he said. “You got it, right? You understand what I’m saying, right? You speak English — yeah or no?”

“Yeah,” the audience member meekly replied.

D’Elia asked the audience member if they were recording his performance on Snapchat so that his friends would believe they attended the show. D’Elia assured the rogue crowd member that his friends would certainly believe he saw D’Elia’s set in “prison with the chandeliers,” throwing another jab at the venue.

He hoped that the audience would better understand how embarrassing it is to be singled out in a crowd, a feeling D’Elia often experiences as a performer.

“How hard do you think this is?” He asked. “At least I’m not recording you with your fucking bitch-ass face like that.”

Inspired by a friend’s grandfather who had an accident while sitting on the couch with the comedian, D’Elia made the audience wonder about what would happen if someone who was about to commit a drive-by shooting had a sudden urge to go to the bathroom. He imitated a man who was dedicated to his criminal plans, confidently counting down the blocks to his destination.

Once the fictitious shooter was one block away, D’Elia paused his narrative and simply looked at the audience, pantomiming the shooter’s actions after his plans were foiled and his pants were soiled.

D’Elia told the audience that his two pet yorkies are always by his side, and that the dogs were probably unhappy to be apart from him during the show.

“They’re probably looking at me right now on Google Earth,” he said.

D’Elia explained that he usually feeds his dogs outside, but this created an issue when his least favorite animal — the possum — discovered the food and began to eat it.

To help the audience understand why he dislikes possums so much, D’Elia repeated the phrase “Possums have hands!” several times, but the comedian was equally uncomfortable with the animal’s face.

“It looks like if you make eye contact with them, they’ll download your soul,” he said.

Opener Mike Lenoci’s performance was quite similar to D’Elia’s — both comedians incorporated current events, toilet humor and even Alena into their sets.

Lenoci talked to the audience about how being in his 30s has changed his lifestyle, and that he now takes his contacts out before bed and tries to be more responsible.

He described going to college as “the biggest mistake of my life,” and regrets racking up costly student loans.

“Alright Sallie Mae, what are you, the Mafia, just going around collecting money from people?” he said.

During Lenoci’s five years studying sociology as an undergraduate, he was also a fraternity member.

“I was a good frat guy. It was always consensual. I was a good one, you know? I didn’t go to Yale or anything,” he said.

Just as Lenoci was wrapping up his set, Alena made herself heard. To the audience’s delight, he imitated her cooing, and reminded the audience not to record D’Elia before he left the stage.

D’Elia understands that his often vulgar humor may offend some people, but said that free speech is essential to preventing comedy from becoming an excessively censored, “corny” industry. He supports comedians who stand by their jokes, and do not back down when someone questions their material.

“Sometimes it’s up to us to do a joke that we think is funny,” D’Elia said. “Sometimes not only does the audience not laugh, but they’ll literally be like ‘no.’ But we gotta be like ‘uh huh, I swear to God.’’’