Choosing comedians to perform at a college campus is never an easy task. Pick someone too tame, and you’ll end up with a bored and tired audience. Pick someone too offensive, and you might find discontent among a largely progressive crowd. Sometimes, however, you end up with two performers who simply are not very funny. The comedy night for this year’s Pegasus Palooza was an example of how poor delivery can prevent any material or comedian from excelling above mediocrity. While none of the show was outright terrible and there were not any lengthy gaps between at least a polite chuckle, there was never a moment of true hilarity or any joke that managed to be meaningful and funny.
The opener for the evening, Brooks Wheelan, set the tone within the first minute of his act. Stumbling through his opening sentences, he never appeared to be very comfortable up on stage. Given how animated his facial and body expressions were, it was sad to see him struggle with the actual oral delivery. As his set came to a close, the comedian informed the audience that he had run out of jokes and decided to try some new material. While this might have been a fine way for him to test what he had been working on, it did not afford the audience much chance for laughter. I understand how difficult stand up comedy is, but workshopping in front of an audience is no way to end on a strong note. However, Wheelan’s interaction with the closed captions operator did elicit genuinely strong laughter, and was the highlight of the night.
Sasheer Zamata, the headliner for the evening, took the stage next. She began with jokes directed toward her former job at Disney and the abysmal conditions of wearing a character suit. This was absolutely her strongest material of the night, given how relatable it was, to some. Beyond that, there just wasn’t much to get excited about. She lacked energy, remaining almost perfectly still for her entire performance, pacing across the stage when she did decide to move. Occasionally breaking off into tangental rants about racial issues and feminist struggles, the audience became noticeably silent at times. It wasn’t that I had a problem with her voicing her opinions about such sensitive topics, but given how little humor was found in these moments, she seemed more interested in attacking those responsible for the issues and less in entertaining. Racial and feminist comedy can be inspiring and hilarious if well written, but it requires actual jokes to leave an audience doing anything more than squirming uncomfortably in their chairs.