REVIEW: SNL’s Alex Moffat embarrasses Rowan Comedy Show failure

I want to preface this by saying that student university programmers (SUP) deserve some major props to host this party. They have spared no effort to attract two big names to campus.

As for the series itself, I’ll start with the positives: Marlon Wayans was hilarious. The lesser-known son of the legendary comedy family gave an energetic performance with many thoughtful life lessons interspersed with relatable and often physical comedy.

I didn’t like his semi-frequent use of f-slur, but it never struck me as blatant or insulting. And his long ruminations on his opinions regarding domestic violence seemed like a strange road to take, but it was surprisingly tasteful. The Wayans gave the men in the audience a clear moral direction on how to deal with women.

And I can’t neglect to mention “the host”, whom the main act simply called “DC”. He was pretty standard when it comes to standing comedians, but still gave us some much needed relief between the opening and the main act.

That brings me to what we need to get into: “Saturday Night Live” comedian Alex Moffat’s debut set was the strangest performance and worst stand-up comedy I’ve ever seen, in person or otherwise.

There are quite a few things to unpack here, and I will try to paint a picture as vivid as possible.

Moffat did the first few minutes of the show as a character, which amounted to speaking German with a cartoonish accent. This alter ego chatted, speaking different German words at random, and ended with impressions of Sammy Davis Jr. and Shaquille O’Neal.

In the end, Moffat was making an impression of someone making an impression of someone else, and the whole crowd was whispering to each other how confused they were about what was going on. You could hardly understand what he was saying.

My friend and I both had dumbfounded looks and we even had to explain to the people sitting next to us that Moffat is not German, and that was the joke.

After about five minutes of that (which sounded like five hours), Moffat switched to his normal voice, apologized for starting off so badly, and started rambling on nothing for 15 minutes. It was as if he was cooking jokes without intending to come up with a punchline.

During this rant, he made the classic anger of telling someone to go. It was actually quite funny. He also mispronounced the name of the place, Esbjornson Gymnasium, on purpose, and that made us laugh.

Okay, maybe he’s better.

Until he decides to make those two jokes two more times each. He repeated the exact same joke three times. Not once, but twice.

I’ve never seen anything like it. I was amazed.

At one point he had put together a joke, then “pinned it” and told an aimless college story that had nothing to do with what he was talking about. Then he finished the original joke to no avail, as we all immediately forgot what the setup was.

Very early on, he tried crowdwork. He jokingly insulted a member of the audience and apologized to them immediately afterwards, as if he had actually committed some sort of transgression by telling jokes as a professional comedian.

I can’t stress enough how little the crowd reacted to what he was doing. The room was silent for most of the act. It was like watching someone who not only had never stood up before, but had never even watched anyone else do so.

At several times he resorted to mocking Rowan University. Now, of course, I don’t mind in principle. Hannibal Buress performed it well when he arrived on campus two years ago, but the main difference between Moffat and Buress ‘approaches was that Buress’ jokes were actually funny.

Moffat sarcastically called us “Princeton of South Jersey” and called the crowd members “kitchen majors or something” in a clearly demeaning tone. It was like a five year old was trying to insult us, and it came across as lame more than anything.

At this point, the most pressing question in my mind was if this was a great anti-comedy experiment and if it was bombing on purpose. I ruled out that possibility when he moved on to his last track.

My friend and I let out deep, moving moans as Moffat approached a keyboard set to his left. He was going to try the musical.

* Facial palm. *

He called it a “sing-along” and asked the crowd for a song suggestion. He chose Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” and started breaking random notes and chords and half-heartedly sang the first verse. Then he skipped the rest of the song and came out after featuring DC for his second cameo. He landed the whole show with a thud and fled from the crime scene.

Although it was an incredibly funny experience, it was more than made up for by the other performers. At the end of the day, even the best of us fail every now and then, and we don’t know what may have happened behind the scenes. I love these great shows that SUP does, as I love the world of comedy so much, and I’m happy to see so many other teachers doing it too.

For questions / comments on this story tweet @TheWhitOnline.

Javier E. Swan

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