Macaulay Seminar One at Brooklyn College
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Category — Oral Performance

Stand-up Comedy and Hitchcock- comments

I stayed for three of the performances (the host and the first two comedians). Out of those three, I thought the host was the best. I found it interesting how most of their jokes were quite vulgar. I believe a good comedian should be able to make people laugh without talking about such topics. It’s almost as if talking about vulgar topics is the easy way out for a comedian. Perhaps making ordinary topics funny is harder. I’ve heard that the performances later on were much better, so I wish I stayed a bit longer.

Coming into BAM, I had higher expectations for the stand-up comedy than for the Hitchcock film. However, I was surprised at how good the Hitchcock film was; I ended up enjoying the movie much more than the comedy. My low expectations for the film were caused by my lack of knowledge of the film. I actually thought it was a going to be a documentary, so I wasn’t really excited about it. However, I was pleasantly surprised when the movie turned out to be more of a drama than a documentary. I wouldn’t have enjoyed this movie as much if we didn’t have a lesson on Hitchcock in class. I wouldn’t recommend this movie to people who don’t know about Alfred Hitchcock because they wouldn’t be able to catch various references about his life and movies. However, anyone who knows the slightest about Hitchcock should watch the film because I thought it was really entertaining and informative for something that’s supposed to be like a biography (which tend to be boring normally).

December 15, 2012   No Comments

Uptown Showdown

I had an excellent time at the uptown showdown. I thought all the comedians (except for maybe one) were super funny, the topic of debate- Hanukkah vs. Christmas, and the fact itself that the comedy show was presented in the form of a debate, was cute and kind of silly, and I found myself laughing almost the entire evening.

One of my favorite parts was hearing Seth Herzog’s rendition of the Hanukkah story. Some parts were a bit dry, but i loved hearing a story that I grew up hearing for so many years. Especially because it was pretty much the way i remembered being told, except with a lot more jokes involved.

I also really liked the use of audio visuals for the use in the “debate”. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a powerpoint presentation used in such a comedic fashion.

Also, I thought that MichaelShowalter’s debate- “Which holiday is less worse” was pretty clever. And his style and delivery are kind of interesting, but really good, in my opinion.

And I forgot to mention the host, who also had some pretty good material.

So in conclusion, I had a really great time (apart for some of the q & a section, which got kind of awkward), Jackie Hoffman was kinda scary (but I totally sang along with her Hanukkah songs in my head), and in the end I didn’t mind having to go all the way to 95th street.

Also, I’d like to formally apologize to Ronny, in front of everyone in the class and all of the internet for my eggnog comment. That was stupid of me. I don’t even know what eggnog smells like. So I’m sorry.

December 13, 2012   No Comments

The Uptown Showdown: Hanukkah Vs. Christmas

Coming into this debate, my Jewish background and upbringing was knocking on the inside of my head, saying “You better decide the right winner, Jake. Don’t mess this one up.” Ultimately, I think I would have to choose Christmas as the winner, but Hannukah was an extremely close second.

Michael Showalter, Craig Baldo, and Albertina Brooks made up the competitors for the Christmas side. They are all extremely talented comedians who have either had their own shows, sitcoms, or stand-up performances. As they began to compete for the audience vote, Craig Baldo brought out the Christmas Smell Machine, which produced christmas smells for the audience. This was a crowd pleaser, and he did very well. The rest of the Christmas team also did very well, with their arguments that Christmas gifts are better, the spirit is more jolly, and its a lot more fun to be celebrating Christmas.

The Hannukah team, made up of famed comedienne Jackie Hoffman, Seth Herzog, and some guy who was clearly not Jewish, fought hard and won on many points. They had more days in which to celebrate, and they didn’t have to deal with that Jesus guy.

Personally, I don’t have a crude threshold. I think as long as the audience is old enough and mature enough to experience that kind of humor, then lay it on. Some people may argue that the humor used in this debate was crude, inappropriate, or rude. I say lay it on. If it makes you uncomfortable or upset, then leave. We have the power to make changes in the media we allow to enter our lives. Change the channel. Change your seat. Your complaints will not stop the F-bombs and dirty phrases coming from the performers on stage. Maybe it is a sign of their inability to make people laugh without the crude. That’s an interesting concept. But overall, let them perform. It’s you who has the power.

And finally, unfortunately for the little Jewish man in my head, Christmas won.

December 8, 2012   No Comments

Comedic Debate at Uptown Showdown

I was overall pleased with the performance we attended at the Uptown Showdown the other week. The Hanukah side focused primarily on insulting the cultural and religious significance of the two holidays, whereas the Christmas side commented more on the festivities and performance we create around them. In this sense, I feel they did not necessarily address the other side’s argument, which made it difficult for me to determine a winner. I was unsure whether to base my opinion on who was funnier or who had a more legitimate argument–or if Christmas simply won by default because I celebrate it and love everything about the holiday 🙂

The approach of the first speaker on the Hanukah side reminded me of the pitchmen’s technique we had discussed in class. He had a set story that was memorized, yet told a bit differently every time so there was still a sense of it being spontaneous and off-the-cuff. That being said, I felt the side remarks- the quick, witty rebuttals from the other teammates- were probably the best part of the show; they were genuinely spontaneous and on-the-spot, which can come across as a lot funnier than something that has been previously thought-out. Furthermore, I liked how the last speaker on the Christmas side took a completely different approach by arguing which holiday is less worse rather than which is better. The feigned surprise and pleasure, spending just 1 day with family because we could not tolerate 8- I felt he changed the pace of the debate by taking a different perspective.

Finally, I often found myself not laughing at what they were saying, but how they were saying it: in other words, their delivery. Whether it was their tone of voice, gestures, facial expressions, or use of props, I felt I was laughing  at the comedians more than I was laughing with them (not to be mean or anything). Or, I found myself laughing simply because other people were, which emphasizes the importance of not only the interaction between the performers and their audience, but among the audience themselves.


The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear 🙂

December 1, 2012   No Comments

Hannukah Vs Christmas

So we went to the Uptown Showdown for this mock-debate. It was supposed to be funny. Most of it wasn’t.

Team Hannukah got started on the right foot with Seth. Seth made the Hannukah story funny, but got in the facts, like you’re supposed to do at a debate. Seth struck the right balance, something that none of the other people on stage managed to do.

Craig Baldo, aka “the guy with the vacuum cleaner”,  was funny, but didn’t have anything of substance to fight Seth off with. He did a good job at telling the audience why he loves Christmas, and that vacuum was entertainment GOLD.

Jackie Hoffman was NOT funny. She was too angry and serious, and her voice got really shrill and made me start looking for my ear plugs- and I don’t own any ear plugs. She did her research though, so she gets some points there, and her mocking Christmas songs was humorous.

To me, at least, Albertina Rizzo wasn’t funny, but to be fair, I NEVER find political people funny in person. At least I can now tell the world “Albertina is a Democrat” with confidence!

Both teams had slideshows. I found Team Christmas’s show by Michael Showalter funnier- those 3 denim shirts KILLED me. Kevin’s show was also pretty good.

The Q and A with the audience was a flop. I can’t tell if that’s because all Q and A’s are lame or this one was just bad because it started firmly on the wrong foot with that guy asking Michael Showalter if his tummy fat was real. That was just mean!

It was heartening to see both teams jump in to defend Michael- I felt it was symbolic, saying that no matter what you celebrate, being a bully is wrong. It was what Michael would’ve called a “RhinoceDuck moment”, where everyone can get along to shame bullies.

My problem with the debate was that the 2 teams didn’t respond to each other, but rather plowed on with their prepared programs. That’s not a debate.

When we debated each other in class, we actually rebutted the other team’s points about apples, we didn’t keep on talking about how awesome oranges are. Our classes’ debate was fierce, and we all got really into it. It was fun


November 30, 2012   No Comments

Uptown Showdown

I’ll start off by saying, I think the topic the comedians had to debate did not give them a fair chance to exhibit their ability to make others laugh and did not give us a chance to fairly assess their abilities.

The Christmas side was funny and kept it light (that is, until the end). Their performers seemed relaxed and their jokes were easy to laugh at and they kept it light. The Chanukah side was funnier but I felt that they were much more hostile and I felt intimidated by them. They did deserve to win the debate though, as they were funnier and made more points, whereas the Christmas side of the debate repeated their points over and over again.

All in all, it was an enjoyable night. I think the topic itself was a difficult one for anyone to really be all that funny with, but the comedians did a good job nonetheless.

November 27, 2012   No Comments

Uptown Showdown: Hanukkah vs Christmas

I had a great time at the mock debate at symphony space. Prior to the show, I had no idea who the performers were, but I was impressed by their credentials. They were able to take somewhat of a difficult topic and turn it into something that was pretty funny.

While certain performers on both sides didn’t stand out too well, overall the two teams did a great job. I couldn’t decide which team was funnier at the end because they both had their moments. The only regret I had was that I missed a handful of the jokes because I didn’t get the references behind them. Most of these jokes came from the Hanukkah side, and were based off knowledge that I didn’t have because of my unfamiliarity with the holiday.

Something I noticed both teams do, was walk a very fine line between humor and overly crude humor. While the line was crossed several times during the night, the comedians always seemed to bring themselves back. This reminded me of what pitchmen need to do to keep their crowds. They have to keep their attention, but at the same time they can’t come across as overly needy or aggressive. Similarly, by venturing too far into the crude zone comedians risk alienating a large part of their audience.

November 27, 2012   2 Comments

Hanukkah vs Christmas

Coming into the comedic debate, I didn’t really know what to expect. I wasn’t too experienced with live comedy. But the show turned out to be really entertaining.



There were many things I liked about the play besides the comedy. One was the audience interaction.  I felt like the teams (especially the first guy on team Christmas) tried to involve the audience. The Q & A in particular allowed the comedians to answer some of the audience members and required them to improvise and not just read from a script, which I found pretty cool. Another was the use of things like PowerPoint presentations. This made it seem like an actual debate with facts, even though it was mostly about making the audience laugh.


At the end, it was interesting how the debaters were trying to use comedy to win the debate rather than reason. I, for instance, picked the winner based on how funny they were and didn’t really think about the facts. In the end, it was a fun experience and I ended up laughing more than learning about either Hanukkah or Christmas.

November 27, 2012   1 Comment

Thoughts on Uptown-Showdown Debate

Coming in to the debate, I had no affiliation toward a side since I don’t celebrate either holiday. Therefore, I judged this “debate” based on which side was funnier, rather than which side made the best claim for their respective holiday. In terms of being funny, I think the Hanukkah side won, especially because of their first speaker (Seth?). He was the one that made me laugh the most. On the Christmas side, I didn’t think the man with the vacuum and Michael Showalter were that funny. Using a vacuum as a smell machine was an interesting prop, but I felt that his performance became very repetitive. Michael Showalter’s performance was not too bad, but I felt that most of it did not pertain to the debate. Unlike those two, Seth’s performance was both funny and relevant to the debate.

I thought the best part of the whole performance was the interactions between the comedians and the crowd. I liked how the comedians were very responsive to what the crowd did. Someone in the crowd might say something, and the comedian would respond to the audience. The Q&A session was also very entertaining. While it was a bit awkward, I found it really funny how whoever asked a question was pretty much embarrassed by the comedians. Overall, I enjoyed this performance.

November 27, 2012   No Comments

Mini-Reflection on Hanukkah vs. Christmas Comedy Show!

Hi everyone,

I somewhat enjoyed the Hanukkah vs. Christmas comedy show. I’m not particularly accustomed to using or hearing profanity, so I must say that the comedians’ frequent use of the f-word came as a bit of shock! Seriously, I really shouldn’t have been surprised though because I kind of knew that generally, in order to appeal to mass audiences, crude humor is usually the way to go…besides that, I thought that the overall quality of the show was really good. I enjoyed the creative use of Powerpoint presentations to back up each side’s claim and I thoroughly enjoyed the side remarks made by each side; they were quick, witty, and resourceful and in my opinion, were probably the best part of the entire show. The act was also very open and flexible; I liked the fact that there wasn’t a specific script that the actors needed to follow when performing and that the actors embraced interaction with the audience ( the vacuum guy was hilarious precisely because of his interaction with the front row, where I was seated).  The atmosphere of the comedy show was also really relaxed and fun; every comedian had notes with them as they got up to set up their argument against the other side, but you could tell that they were all, for the most part, very relaxed and comfortable with what they were going to present. In my opinion, the third guy on the Hanukkah side was the funniest because his tone of speech was drawling, bored, and yet so sarcastic and witty. He had so many quick jabs up his sleeve. That guy offered so many rebuttals and every time he spoke, I wasn’t quite sure of what to expect from him. The older lady on the Hanukkah side was, like I said in class, a bit intimidating, but I found her sense of humor also very entertaining because she used historical facts to back up her claim that Hanukkah is better than Christmas. Her argument was a bit satirical and I think it would generally go under the heading of “nerdy humor.” I didn’t understand a few of her references, but I got the gist of what she was trying to say.

I hope this mini-reflection gave you all a sense of what I thought of the show. Feel free to share your own thoughts!



November 26, 2012   No Comments