With a single light illuminating the stage, Jiayong Li, a semi-finalist of the Boston Comedy Festival, monotonously joked, “So some people ask me, what’s China’s government like? Well, I can’t complain.” Adorning a black jacket and black pants, Li made little gestures, staring at the audience with a deadpan expression, as the crowd burst into deafening laughter and applause.
Four professional comedians performed in this year’s annual Stand-Up Comedy show at Susie’s last Friday night. Through personal anecdotes, the comedians joked about the world, the human conditions, and themselves.
“The whole point of doing [stand-up comedy] is laughter, and that’s the ultimate satisfaction. I get to be in a room filled with people who are laughing. There’s really nothing better than that… You go from stage fright, nervousness to preparation, reworking some jokes, trying to figure out the right word, the equations about how punchlines work. All that stuff. There’s also just the grind of doing it every day. There are so many difficult aspects to [stand-up comedy], but again, a great show makes it all worth it,” said Sam Ike, one of the four comedians who performed.
Dan Crohn, a Boston local who was one of the top 100 comedians in the ninth season of the TV show “Last Comic Standing,” opened the show. During his performance, Crohn joked about his everyday life, lamenting about having a brother who is a Harvard graduate and lawyer, and is more successful than him.
“The jokes that I performed tonight are specific for kids. So we’re making sure that kids are getting smart material. All the comics that are on tonight are great. I love it here. We’ve been doing this show for nine years, and it’s always a great time. The kids are great. This is one of the best ones that we do. They’re on every word, they’re smart, so you can do pretty much the stuff you normally do at nightclubs,” said Crohn.
One of the highlights of the night was Li’s performance. While maintaining an unwavering, monotone expression, Li detailed his life as a foreigner from China. He explained that he once confused the word “bicycle path” with “psychopath,” and provided personal commentary on China’s government.
“There is some political material that I was worried whether kids would get it. Because when I was a kid, I was an idiot, so I don’t think I would have gotten the jokes I’m telling now. But I’m very pleasantly surprised,” said Li.
“Jiayong Li’s performance was my favorite because not only was he hilarious, but he also spoke about racial issues in such an open and approachable way, which I really appreciated,” said Senna Hahn ’20, an audience member. “A performance like the one we saw at the end opens a dialogue in a much easier and more casual way than a talk to specifically address the issue because humor is such an easy way to express things. It really gets to people in a less of a serious context, which I find allows people to be more open to it.”
Paul Landwehr, a New Hampshire comedian featured in the National Public Radio, performed later in the night discussing jokes about his life as a worker at a grocery market as well as deeper topics such as OCD, ADD, and anxiety.
“Tonight, I performed those particular jokes because they tell the story of my life. My material comes from experience. I enjoy sharing and laughing at my flaws, failures, and concerns in this crazy life,” wrote Landwehr in an email to The Phillipian. “I enjoy providing a service that takes people away from the world for a bit. I hope that I can be an inspiration to anyone who suffers from anxiety and especially public speaking.”