Joel McHale

Joel McHale performs stand-up comedy at the Eisenhower Auditorium on Friday, August 30, 2019. The Penn State Student Programming Association sponsored the event.

Though a laugh track played before the show began, it was not necessary as comedian Joel McHale left the audience in hysterics.

Hosted by the Student Programming Association, McHale's performance took place at 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30 in the Eisenhower Auditorium. 

McHale's raunchy comedy served as SPA’s first event of the year. Students who attended the show, like Rachel Lutz and Ceci Bucci, expected McHale to utilize his sarcastic sense of humor, and many felt he did not disappoint.

“I don’t know what to expect. I don’t know what his stand-up style is, but it will probably be something snarky,” Bucci (junior-statistics) said before the show.

Lutz (junior-chemical engineering) and Bucci were familiar with McHale’s work on “The Soup” and “Community,” but not his stand-up.

Comedian J.F. Harris, who last appeared at Penn State with The Impractical Jokers, opened for McHale. After confirming while on stage that he was allowed to curse, Harris shaped his routine to his younger audience when he realized they seemed to prefer the more offensive jokes, while he still offered some political commentary.

Harris advised students to finish college, so they would not have to select the “some college” option while applying for jobs.

Joel McHale, Opener Harris

J.F. Harris performs stand-up comedy while opening up for Joel McHale at the Eisenhower Auditorium on Friday, August 30, 2019. The Penn State Student Programming Association sponsored the event.

Harris also made an argument for the legalization of marijuana as he said the only way marijuana is a gateway drug is that it is a “gateway to better music.”

After Harris’s short set, McHale entered the stage and immediately began bashing Ohio State in attempt to get the audience on his side from the beginning. Well-versed in Penn State trivia, McHale explained the origins of the Nittany Lion as Penn State’s mascot, and also discussed how the Eisenhower Auditorium is not named after former President Dwight Eisenhower.

McHale poked fun at Pennsylvania, observing that everything between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia seems to be Amish country. He followed his Pennsylvania commentary with an attempt at the “We Are” chant.

“[You guys are] the politest people on the planet,” McHale said after the audience gave him the “you’re welcome” at the end of the chant.

Later, McHale attempted another “We Are” chant at an extremely fast speed and said that students should use that version more frequently.

McHale also found humor in the strong role football plays throughout State College. While he googled State College, McHale said the majority of the results and news stories centered around football.

Joel McHale

Joel McHale performs stand-up comedy at the Eisenhower Auditorium on Friday, August 30, 2019. The Penn State Student Programming Association sponsored the event.

In between showing off his extensive knowledge of Penn State, McHale also offered crude humor and political jokes. McHale discussed his fascination with how Donald Trump’s ties stay secure and his fear of Mike Pence.

SPA will continue to host events like this throughout the year.

Executive director of SPA, Jake Coyne, hoped students enjoyed the show and McHale’s humor.

“I love comedy shows, of course, and I hope we do really well with this show,” Coyne (junior-business management) said.

Nikki Halloran, SPA's director of events, said SPA's events are coordinated in attempt to bring in diverse range of performers to campus to cater to as many students’ tastes as possible.

“We spent a lot of time watching videos and interviews to find who was doing things that were relevant now,” Halloran (senior-telecommunications) said.


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