Arts comedy review

SNL cast member Nasim Pedrad plays it safe during Fallfest performance

Pedrad treads over tired MIT stereotypes and Harvard rivalry, but shines with personal anecdotes

I’m a comedy show novice. It’s not that I don’t like funny things; it’s just that I always thought most shows were the amalgamation of awkward cringe-worthy moments and second-hand embarrassment. Sorry, but I’ll pass on that.

Saturday night’s Fallfest comedy performance by former SNL cast-member and star of New Girl, Nasim Pedrad, proved me wrong — but perhaps for all the wrong reasons.

Pedrad walked onto Kresge Auditorium’s stage (albeit nearly 20 minutes late) and opened with several jokes at Harvard’s and MIT’s expenses. The classic MIT stereotypes were in full force — our smartness, our hacking ability, our dislike for the humanities. While her willingness to play to the audience was admirable, her unfamiliarity with the underlying basis of her jokes was clear. And while she pushed through a Beaver Call joke, which the audience greatly appreciated, she seemed entirely out of her element.

The MIT stereotypes seemed nothing more than a crutch and a safe way to secure some laughs.

Her “guess-who-said-it” section, comparing MIT Confessions to Kanye West tweets was  a brilliant idea and exceedingly well executed. Most of the excerpts from the storied MIT Facebook page and the famous rapper’s tweets were indistinguishable. I’m not quite sure what that says about us as a school or about Yeezy. I’ll let the audience decide on that.

Finally moving on from MIT jokes, Pedrad talked about her own life, making jokes about growing up Iranian and the hilarious frustrations of having parents who don’t speak English. In her own words, small things like learning to use the Uber app can go from “zero to Xanax” real fast.

This is where Pedrad truly shined. She knew her jokes, and they were original. They were the kind of anecdotes and stories that you expect when you arrive at a stand-up comedy show.

Wrapping up her performance, Pedrad decided to call up audience members to perform an old SNL skit that was never produced. To my surprise, many students volunteered and did a phenomenal job.

The skit was stellar, but not due to Pedrad’s own comedy brilliance. Pedrad talked for less than 10 minutes. It seemed like a cop-out. The segment’s hilarity was really due to the performance of our very own students — notably when one of them decided to take off his shirt on stage, which might have been the cringiest moment for me.

Nasim Pedrad’s Fallfest performance was solid, though nothing more than safe. While there were thankfully almost no awkward, cringe-worthy moments or second-hand embarrassment, there were also no moments of uncontrollable laughter or genius jokes. You could say Pedrad changed my mind on comedy shows, but I don’t know if I’ll be eager to go again.