When the laughter sounds more like shock

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SUBOG Comedy hosts Chris D’Elia, and sells out the Jorgensen Theater for Spring Weekend. (Avery Bikerman/The Daily Campus)

Student Union Board of Governors (SUBOG) made the mistake of bringing in stand-up comedian Chris D’Elia and placing him in front of a massive “SUBOG Comedy” backdrop. He immediately latched onto the sign, exclaiming that someone should, “Make it nicer!” Noticing the round of applause and cheers from the audience, D’Elia was quick to add SUBOG to his massive list of those to make fun of for the sake of comedy.

Before D’Elia even came out, though, his disembodied voice welcomed his opener Mike Lenoci to the stage. Lenoci’s jokes offended several groups, but his one about Mexican women was the only one not received well. Some of his other ones were actually funny and garnered laughter, such as his one about how he doesn’t care about learning up on politics or social issues, but he is very aware about the problem of bananas.

“I do worry about the small amount of time you have to finish bananas,” Lenoci said to a hysterical audience.

Lenoci went on and on about how he would go as far as to push bananas on other people so he could get through them faster. Of course, his joke did crash and burn as soon as he made a sexual assault joke regarding the color of an old bananas skin and that of his date if she doesn’t eat said banana. This, like most of his jokes, gathered more of a shocked noise mixed with slight laughter, rather than actual laughter. When Lenoci finally left, it was almost a relief.

The mood of the audience shifted completely when D’Elia got onstage. While many of his jokes were offensive or targeted individuals, similar to Lenoci, there seemed to be a defined line he wouldn’t cross for laughs. But even when he did go a little too far, his jokes were still better received than his opener’s because of the way he intermingled his manic laughter, Kermit-the-Frog-esque voices, imitations and bits where he acted out what he was trying to say. Compared to Lenoci’s tired monotone, D’Elia seemed more alive, and, well, funny.

D’Elia’s best joke, besides his constant return to jabbing SUBOG, was the one about the baby in the mall. He said he loved pushing boundaries offstage and even struggled not to. For an example, he talked about a baby he came across in the mall.

“Last week I growled at a baby and yeah, I’m not sorry,” D’Elia said. “Fuck that baby.”

D’Elia explained that the baby had been staring at him for a long time, and how that was not acceptable.

“If you can’t glance, baby, you’re not ready for the world,” D’Elia said. “If you’re not ready for the world, you shouldn’t be at the mall!”

So rather than let the baby’s slight go, he decided to teach him the order of the world by growling at the poor kid. But when he leaned down and actually growled at the baby, he didn’t think about what would come afterward: The baby screamed. And as soon as the baby screamed, its mom noticed the strange man growling at it and D’Elia consequently realized its mom existed and was right next to him. After making a couple excuses, he stood up, nervous-walked into a Forever 21, got into his van and left.

“I thought it was really funny,” Brendan Cestari, a fourth-semester economics, said. “I don’t usually go for comedy, but I thought this was really cool.”

D’Elia also likes pushing the boundaries by airdropping pictures to random people. He said that on his way to Connecticut, he googled “Asian family” and airdropped the first one he saw to the crowded plane. Looking behind him, he saw dozens of people look down at their phones suddenly and then look up in confusion.

Of his jokes, the worst-received one was about how dolphin rape is the only kind of rape where it is the victim’s fault. The shocked noise that colored most of his opener’s performance echoed across the audience, which while not entirely uncommon in D’Elia’s show, lacked all the laughter it had in prior instances. This prompted him to jump into a speech about how most comedians don’t do college gigs because college students get offended really easily. He said he doesn’t give a fuck about that, and that he wouldn’t apologize for pushing the envelope in a funny way onstage because he’s not actually this racist, terrible guy — and that’s what makes his jokes jokes.

Before reluctantly leaving, D’Elia turned to the SUBOG Comedy sign for one last time.

“Well SUBOG, I’ll never forget you … for a whole week maybe,” D’Elia said.
And with that, and several more jokes and tangents intermingled with him saying “I should go,” he was gone.

“I think it was amazing and it was really funny, and it was worth the time to come and watch it,” June Lee, a sixth-semester biology major, said.


Rebecca Maher is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at rebecca.l.maher@uconn.edu.

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