April 27, 2005

Steve Hofstetter Entertains Students in Call Auditorium

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For girls it’s the walk of shame; for guys, “it’s the strut of pride” said Steve Hofstetter, head writer for the website www.collegehumor.com, who performed stand-up comedy for a live audience of Cornell students at Call Auditorium in Kennedy Hall last night. The event was sponsored by the Classes of ’06, ’07, and ’08.

Hofstetter, a graduate of Columbia University, performs at over 100 colleges per year. Last night, the comedian — a thefacebook.com friend of 96,000 — spoke on a wide variety of subjects ranging from dumb people to America’s tendency to scapegoat the media for social ills.

If anything besides funny, Hofstetter’s act was political. The comedian expressed dissatisfaction with the current political atmosphere, noting that more money was spent on security at the Democratic and Republican conventions than was distributed to all of the soldiers in Iraq this past year.

“One party’s in bed with big oil; one party’s in bed with big interns,” said Hofstetter, ridiculing the importance of special interests in modern politics. If so much security should ever be present at Madison Square Garden, he suggested, it should be during a Knicks game instead of a party convention, when “we care if people die.”

Hofstetter did not attempt to hide his own political predilections, admitting that he picked “Gore over Bush” in the 2000 Presidential Election (though in choosing movies, his preference order is “the other way around”). As for the war in Iraq, Hofstetter said President Bush likely views the conflict as “the best game of Risk ever.”

In between jokes, a moral of the story slowly emerged: that the “one disease in America is blaming everyone for ourselves.” This theme appeared in Hofstetter’s discussions of obesity, drug addiction, and American hubris. Hofstetter tied the absurdity of putting insecure and overweight children on national television to the American tendency to say “God bless us” daily — “He already did!”

The central message of Hofstetter’s performance was complemented by digressions and asides often performed in character. At one point, the comedian adopted a divine intonation and critiqued his own performance from God’s perspective. Later on, Hofstetter imagined himself as an overgrown child struggling to eat pudding.

The segments of Hofstetter’s performance not explicitly linked to politics still reflected current events. The comedian approached Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ through a personal angle: his own Judaism. After commenting that he only saw two Jews in the audience, Hofstetter said he was relieved because “last time someone tried to round up all the Jews in the room, shit went down.”

Likewise, Hofstetter touched on personal experience in broaching the subject of diversity on campus. Hofstetter has an adopted African American sister, which for him meant that his only qualm with Black people was that “they’re always reading my diary!”

Unlike Minnesota, where Hofstetter said there are only five Black people (“and they all play for the Timberwolves”), Cornell does enjoy a diverse campus. Hofstetter explained what he observed to be a lack of diversity in the audience — “whiter than a sale at Bed, Bath and Beyond” — with conflicting obligations: “[The minorities] are just busy taking pictures for brochures,” he said.

Comedian Steve Boyer, who opened for Hofstetter, joked about his own awkward experiences with women (and his ongoing quest to encourage a date to “touch it”), the challenges of growing up in the Midwest, and the insanity of abstinence.

“Your lips may belong to Satan, but your cherry belongs to Christ,” said Boyer, who joked that religion encourages oral sex when intercourse is prohibited.

Student reaction to both performances was categorically positive. Max Lee ’06, who was singled out by Hofstetter during the show as looking like he was on his first date, said he was “pretty pleasantly surprised.” For the record, it was Lee’s first date.

Students in the audience from Ithaca College also seemed pleased, despite Hofstetter’s disparaging comments about the nearby institution. “What do I, go to Ithaca?,” said Hofstetter rhetorically, when he mispronounced “agriculture” as “agriculture.”

Demian Caponi ’05, Editor in Chief of the Cornell Lunatic, called Hostetter’s brand of comedy “smart humor.” “His interaction with the crowd is really good, and the way he tailors to Cornell is really nice,” said Caponi.

From the decibel level in the auditorium, it seemed as if most in the audience shared Alana St. Aude ’07’s impression of the show: “I was laughing so hard I started crying.”

Archived article by Rob Fishman
Sun Staff Writer