Michael Che, a writer-performer on Saturday Night Live and best known as co-anchor of “Weekend Update,” was the headliner for Union Board’s 2018 Big Show. In the packed Washington Gardner Auditorium, Albion College students and faculty enjoyed a night of laughter with Che and his opening act, Ahmed Bharoocha.
Bharoocha, a half Irish Catholic, half Pakistani-Indian-Burmese-Muslim comic, was able to warm up the crowd with some light-hearted jokes before moving into some of his more crowd-pleasing material. From jokes about crows outside his house learning to fly to his dad towing a car that was supposed to be his sister’s, but wasn’t, Bharoocha was a great opening act and provided a nice transition for Che.
When Che came onto the stage, he said, “I’m not really sure what you guys want, so I have some pitches and you can tell me if you like them.” Che began to read off a dozen or so ideas for jokes. The pitches ranged from sweet, light-hearted humor to raunchy sex jokes to racially charged bits. After figuring out the crowd, Che eventually said the audience liked “the sweet stuff.”
Che got funnier and funnier as the night progressed. Although I was confused when he was reading his ideas, they still made almost everyone in the audience laugh in some capacity. The laughter increased throughout the night and hit its peak when Che noticed Wes Dick, Professor of U.S. History, in the audience.
After asking Dick a few questions, Che tried to figure out how Dick was a student at Albion and was seemingly oblivious to the fact that Dick was a professor. At one point, Che asked Dick what he was studying to which Dick replied, “History.”
“History?” Che said. “You are history!”
This was one of the funniest bits of the night simply because everyone in the audience knew Dick and the importance of his work at Albion College. I’m still not sure whether Che pieced together that Dick was a professor at Albion, but it made for great comedy and the laughter in the auditorium was deafening.
Once he and Dick finished talking, Che began to take questions from audience members. One student asked him if he was on Tinder, a popular dating app. Che said he wasn’t on Tinder, but he offered to write her Tinder profile for her. The student got on stage and sat on the floor next to Che as he told her what to type.
The crowd seemed to enjoy Che throwing ideas at the student about what to put in her profile. It was a great moment because it was completely unstaged — neither Che nor the audience had any idea this would happen, and the serendipity of the moment was amazing.
While Che was scheduled to perform from 9:30 to 10:30, he didn’t finish his bits until 10:45. He was having fun with the audience, and the audience was giving it right back to him. As a tandem, Bharoocha and Che had the crowd laughing throughout the night and made the 2018 Big Show a great event for Albion College students and faculty.