Colin’s Comedy Set Was Jost What This Weekend Needed



Colin Jost of SNL fame performed a stand-up routine at Finneran Pavilion on Sep. 24.

Carter Smith, Staff Writer

I was hyped going into Family Weekend. Even though my parents were not making the trip out from Washington this year, there was going to be a lot to do. Listening to and performing at the a cappella showcase on Friday night was bound to be a blast, and surely the football team would hand a sizable “L” to Monmouth University, a school that my friends and I had never heard of before.

But there was something I was looking forward to even more than both of those things: An Evening With Colin Jost. One of my favorite comedians was coming to my school, and I got a good seat. To say I was excited would be an understatement.

The a cappella showcase went pretty well and the football game went less well, so it would come down to Jost’s comedy show to make this weekend truly stand-out for me.

And I was not disappointed. Alex English, the opener and one of Jost’s fellow Saturday Night Live writers, owned his time on the stage. Even though much of the audience likely could not relate to his life experiences as a gay, Black man, which formed the basis of much of his material, he packaged and presented those experiences in such a way that everybody could get something from it and laugh along with him. 

His perspective is one that we do not hear from often at Villanova or in comedy in general, and through his easily-followable style, we were able to hear more about it.

The length of his set was perfect. He had enough time to get his points across and deliver a complete set, while not staying up so long as to out-stay his welcome as an opener.

When Jost started out with the “Vanilla-nova” joke, I knew his set was going to be great. He made jokes about the same things we joke about as Villanova students: the absurdity of calling our dining halls “Pit” and “Spit,” the ordinariness of the name of our basketball arena and how unfortunate it must be for the sculptor of “The Awakening” to have his statue be downgraded to cookie status (“The Oreo”). Those jokes were nice to hear and helped audience members less-familiar with Jost understand his style of stand-up with a familiar topic.

Content-wise, it was clear Jost knew his audience and was not just relying on previous material. As one who watches Saturday Night Live and his stand-up and has read his book “A Very Punchable Face,” I knew a couple of the stories he told already, such as the pot cookie and his experience as a Russian language major. However, hearing the stories again straight from his mouth and in a stand-up context was no less amusing.

On top of the Villanova-related jokes, taking cracks at certain majors, opening up for audience questions and telling stories like “the roommate” showed to me that he took the time to get to know his audience and develop a set for us. Even if we were “just another gig,” it did not feel like that as a listener.

Jost’s style as more of a storyteller comic had no trouble keeping my interest and that of the audience throughout his set. Along with narrating stories relevant to the parents and students, it was easy to identify with him while bawling at the hilarity of the situations he has found himself in.

Both English and Jost’s sets were a lot more risqué than I thought they were going to be. On Weekend Update and in his normal sets, Jost does not often touch on the most controversial topics, but some of his stories can go to places that I would not describe as school-appropriate.

I cannot speak for English’s work because I have never seen or heard him do stand-up, but I was a little worried that the university would restrict certain topics and force both comics into censoring their material. I am so glad I was wrong.

When English detailed his sexual experiences and Jost targeted Catholicism or said something was “pitch black…so the opposite of Villanova,” I felt the uncomfortable energy permeate the arena with a tide of nervous “oohs.” It’s hard to do comedy and not make some people uncomfortable, but I think both comedians did a good job with walking the line. Some risqué statements and jokes were made, but it was clear to me that they were in good fun and not meant to insult or cause controversy.

Those mixed reactions and nervous laughs, along with both comedians acknowledging the questionable nature of what they said made the night for me. I would not have enjoyed the event as much if they were forced to sanitize their sets, it would have seemed much less genuine.

Overall, seeing one of my favorite comedians do stand-up at Villanova with an amazing opener has been one of the highlights of my year thus far. Jost was what this weekend needed.