“So, uh, I heard about Pete Davidson,” the comedian Tig Notaro said as she took the stage in Rosse Hall on Saturday night. She was referring, of course, to the Saturday Night Live comedian’s now-infamous show at Kenyon last April, which featured a low-energy Davidson delivering material that fell flat and that many students found offensive.
The bar for success was low, and Notaro far surpassed it. Attendance was high as the Office of Student Engagement (OSE) continued giving away tickets up until just minutes before the doors opened to a line of eager students.
The night also included an opening set from Delaney Barker ’20, a Q&A session with Notaro and music and fried food in Peirce Dining Hall.
After Barker warmed up the crowd with a series of well-received jokes about racial diversity and financial aid at Kenyon, Notaro began her set. Wearing a tweed jacket and holding a Kenyon mug filled with tea, Notaro looked like she belonged on campus, but her jokes brought the audience outside the “Kenyon bubble.”
For example, towards the end of her set, Notaro spoke about her experience at a birthday party for Ellen DeGeneres and delivered a comically horrendous impersonation of Adele. “I don’t know how to play the piano,” she said as she sat down at one of Rosse’s grand pianos to perform Adele’s “Hello” for the crowd.
Despite an air of nonchalance and a willingness to self-deprecate, Notaro’s set came across as well-rehearsed and purposefully timed. Many of her jokes hinged on some form of misunderstanding, and Notaro patiently brought the audience through each situation, allowing time to appreciate the humor.
Where the night in Rosse faltered, however, was during the Q&A session: Several silly and personal questions elicited one-word answers, and Notaro’s waning enthusiasm led many students to question if the Q&A was planned.
According to Kim Wallace, associate director of student engagement, the Q&A session had been offered by Notaro’s agency. “Sometimes performers prefer to extend their set instead of offering a Q&A, so it can sometimes seem like a last-minute decision,” Wallace wrote in an email to the Collegian.
OSE scheduled Notaro’s visit to campus with funding from private donors. In looking for a performer, the office takes into account name recognition, content of material and demographic balance.
“We want to make sure we lift up voices that maybe aren’t always being lifted up,” Wallace said.
This marks the second year that has OSE used ticket giveaways for an event like this. Davidson’s show last year was the first time that tickets were required for entrance. Despite Davidson’s disappointing performance, the use of tickets was a success, according to Wallace, so they decided to do the same thing again this year with slight variations.
This year, “Tig tickets” made their way to eager students through raffles, drawings and early-morning giveaways. Those who filled Rosse Hall were not disappointed.