The dim lighting, bare stone walls, and vaguely sinister organ music floating down to the basement of St. Paul’s Chapel all make for a great haunted atmosphere. On Friday, Oct. 28, however, the crypt was filled with many more laughs than ghostly music. SSO-Lol hosted their first stand-up comedy night of the semester in Postcrypt Coffeehouse, following Memento Mori’s debut on Monday.
Jokes regarding the current election, racial tension, and other pressing political manners would come to dominate for much of the night, as the comedians poked fun at everything from Hillary Clinton to Columbia’s stress culture to the Bhakti monks chanting the Hare Krishna in Times Square.
While his prewritten jokes about life in New York City were both well-delivered and relatable, the true fun in Findling’s routine arose from his spontaneous interactions with crowd members as he riffed on oddly-spelled names and made insinuations about drug-laden Halloween candy. As an opener to the night, he was hilarious—but he also proved to be a tough act to follow.
Next up was Ethan SP, from Chicago, who wasn’t afraid to jump right into the topic of diversity: His first question, “How many black people are here tonight?”, saw three people raise their hands, one of whom was a white girl who quickly put it back down after realizing what he had asked. “Well, that seems like a pretty accurate breakdown of the whole college,” he continued, before performing an uproarious set about growing up in Chicago (“where they murder people”) and go to school with gang members.
His mix of candidly hilarious anecdotes and fearlessness in telling them was fresh and engaging, and he drew enthusiasm from the crowd as well—especially with his joke about living your life like Jesus, “nine-to-five carpenter and part-time savior.”
Former Columbia student Luke Mones, CC ’14, followed with a relatable, albeit slightly dry, monologue about the difficulties of life and dating as a 20-something in New York City. The true highlights of his set came in the form of various impressions of office coworkers, Russian therapists, and old Italian-American landlords.
To close out the evening, Brooklyn native Zach Swan took the stage. Unlike the previous two performers, Swan did not graduate from Columbia and joked that this is the closest he would ever be to being a member of the Ivy League. His set, like many of the others, touched on race-related issues in the form of his grandparents’ somewhat oblivious racist remarks. And while sometimes he did tend to drag a joke out long past the time it died, his enthusiastic delivery was commendable.
Racism, commitment-phobia, and near-death experiences on the subway are not funny under normal circumstances, but therein was the magic of the show: the performers’ ability to take things that scared them and make them hilarious. It truly was a “spooktacular,” as Mones repeated—yet what could have spooked us made us laugh instead.