Comedy Disaster

This past Thursday, we had our annual fall comedy show, SEE. We had an unusual two opening acts – Jermaine Fowler and Michael Ian Black –  and a headliner that I wasn’t very excited about: Craig Robinson.

Allow me to set the scene just a smidge. The past 3 years, I’ve absolutely loved our fall comedy show. My first one featured Russell Peters, who was then basically the only stand-up comic that I was really familiar with. Kevin Nealon opened for him, and he’s a legend in his own right. My sophomore year, Demetri Martin was fantastic and Mike Birbiglia, the opening act, was really hilarious. SEE does a good job of finding people who have different styles of comedy. Last year, we had Aziz Ansari, and he is sooooo funny. I was really happy with our comedy lineups for my first three years, so I was really eagerly anticipating the announcement of our comic for this year. (Fingers were crossed for Donald Glover!) They announced him late, but then we finally got it.

Craig Robinson. With Jermaine Fowler and Michael Ian Black opening.

So, I have never really seen anything that Craig Robinson has been in. I don’t watch The Office much at all, and I haven’t really seen the movies that he’s been in. (No, I haven’t seen Pineapple Express.) I was considering not going at all, but I’m extremely sentimental, so I decided I did have to go to my final homecoming show. Plus, my friend twisted my leg, and I really only get to see him at this show once a year. Although I was worried that the tickets would be sold out, I had no trouble at all securing my seat.

I saw why when I arrived.

Since I’m not a big fan of Craig, and I didn’t know our openers at all, I opted not to wait in line as soon as I got out of work. Doors opened at 6:30, so I could’ve head there straightaway, but I decided to put my things down and eat dinner first. I headed over around 7, expecting to see the usual line winding around the building and down the street since I had arrived after doors opened.
This was false. I was able to wait near the front, with my friend saving my place having only arrived a few minutes before me. The doors hadn’t been open yet, and they didn’t open for another 15 minutes. (Fail #1: Doors opened 45 minutes late.) I didn’t think much of it, it just meant that I didn’t have to wait that long despite coming to wait in line relatively late.

When I was seated and the show started, I realized that… the arena was really empty. Eerily so. The shows I had attended in previous years were always sold-out. The floor seats, that are nearer the talent and cost a little more, were only half full. The other seats were even more pitifully empty. (Fail #2: Poor audience attendance. This reflects 2 sub-fails: Fail#2a: Poor gauging of what the student body wanted, and Fail #2b: Poor marketing efforts.)

Jermaine Fowler was really funny though. He has that casual style of humor that reminds you of that one friend you have who is simply hilarious. Some people complained that he wasn’t a true stand-up comedian, but I thoroughly enjoyed his act. Very funny, plus he’s from this area, so he had some sort of inside jokes with this audience.

Michael Ian Black was also funny. His style of humor was much drier, and more stand-up style. I wasn’t a big fan at the beginning, because his humor was kind of offending me… Making fun of Jermaine’s family, getting a bit too much into his race jokes… But in the end, I enjoyed his set.

Then Jermaine Fowler told us another story while Craig Robinson’s band set up. This surprised me. I didn’t realize Craig Robinson would be bringing a band out, but looking back at the event page, it does say that he will be providing us with “lyrical humor”. So, that wasn’t a fail there.

The band started to play, which was a bit overwhelming for me. (Fail #3: Audio for the band was way too loud.) They were good, though, and I felt very ready to laugh my socks off. The keyboardist was really cool and there were a few sax and guitar solos. Good stuff.

FINALLY. Craig Robinson comes out, carrying half a case of water bottles. (That was a little weird XD) He sat at the keyboard and started playing…
… and playing…
… and playing…
His intro for himself seemed to drag out. He wasn’t singing or talking much. It was a stark contrast from Bo Burnham’s mantra of “every moment is an opportunity for comedy!”

Craig finally asks us if we’re ready to party. (Yes? Are you ready after your 5 minute keyboard intro?) Then he has a few people from the floor storm the stage. (Does he think this is a concert…? He knows he’s not Jay-Z, right?) He doesn’t let them sit back down, either.

“I’ma f*** y’all like Sandusky!” (Fail #4: This. Line. Right. Here.)
This was one of the first things he said to us. This joke is so grossly inappropriate, I actually almost walked out when he made it. It’s not a one-liner. If you are going to make a joke like this, there needs to be some kind of setup. If he had used his 5 minutes to set up rather than to derp on the keyboard, maybe I would’ve been slightly less offended.

He just keeps going with some singing, on occasion. But in general, he didn’t really sing, he didn’t make any jokes. He summoned a girl to the stage by saying, “Come here, big titties.” (Fail #5: That line.) One of his “bits” was going up to a guy near the stage and then repeatedly pelvic thrusting him, all the while saying “I put my d*ck in your face, I put my d*ck in your face, I put my d*ck in your face.” (Fail #6: Um… humping a dude’s face?) I later found out what he brought out the water bottles for…? He chucked them into the audience. Luckily for him, there were plenty of empty sections and he seemed to be aiming for those. (… I hope he was.) (Fail #7: Endangering us if he wasn’t aiming for those empty sections…) He also sprayed that front section with his water bottle. (Fail #8: Why do people do this. Also, we weren’t outdoors.)

It was terrible. About 15 minutes in, people started walking out.
In droves.

I would turn around to see about 20 people at a time leaving. With an already half-empty arena, this steady stream of people walking out was super sad. I saw our student organizers looking really sad about it. They kept turning on the house lights… which was sad because the arena kept getting emptier and emptier.

A little bit over an hour in, he speaks again, “Who’s having fun here tonight?”
… no one.
He tries again, “Who here feels cheated?”
Hands up all around. My hand shot up.

Then he walked off the stage.
He was supposed to go for another half hour.

I have a suspicion that he may have been too drunk for his gig. Michael Ian Black made a joke about Craig Robinson and his band bringing vodka and cranberry juice backstage and everyone getting drunk together. I don’t take everything that comedians say for a bit as truth, but it was making sense. Craig was slurring words, his motion was slightly uncoordinated.

I hope the organizers are able to get their money back, because if he was performing drunk, I think that’s a violation of contract. Also, he ended prematurely. (Although, I think they told him to do so. Because it was terrible.)

All in all, it was the most disappointing show ever. I almost walked out multiple times. I have never been so let down by a comedian at this school, and I’ve seen so many of them.

Waiting for a formal response from the organizers.

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