Wednesday night ACCENT Speakers Bureau hosted Kenan Thompson and Michael Che at the O’Connell Center.
The O’Connell Center had a different feeling than it usually does during a gymnastics meet or a basketball game. Half of the seats were filled, from the ground until halfway up the stands. The smaller amount of people in the large arena gave the event an intimate feeling, successfully replicating a feeling closer to a stand-up show than a guest-speaker event.
Kenan Thompson came out on stage first and spoke to the audience about his life, which has been spent in show business. Thompson explained that he is not a stand-up, as he has been doing sketch comedy since he was a teen, so this format is not something he regularly does. Despite that, his stories about his times on sets of The Mighty Ducks movies, kids’ news segments on local television, All That on Nickelodeon, Fat Albert, and Saturday Night Live did not fail to make the audience laugh.
Thompson was charismatic and gave a light-hearted start to the event. Midway through his segment, he noticed a baby in the audience after speaking about certain age-inappropriate topics for an infant.
“He doesn’t know English yet, it’s fine,” Thompson said of his foul language in front of the baby.
Next, Michael Che, known for his standup, came out next, but before he could start his set, a man in the audience yelled out, “Colin Jost!”
Colin Jost is Che’s co-anchor on SNL’s Weekend Update.
Che responded, “Jost isn’t here!”
The audience member continued yelling unintelligible things, and Che didn’t understand what he was trying to say – neither did the rest of the audience.
“When white guys yell I get nervous. This is Gainesville,” Che joked.
It wasn’t long before Che also noticed the baby in the audience, even more shocked than Thompson was, as he had been discussing topics that made even the 18+ audience members squirm. Needless to say, the baby was one of the stars of the night.
Che also decided to heckle a young man in the audience named Trevor, who quickly became a character during the set when Che referred to white people.
Che killed* his set – my friend and I were in tears laughing the whole time, and the audience roared with laughter. Che touched on stupidly funny topics like how many homeless men’s genitals he’s seen on the streets of New York as well as relevant topics such as Donald Trump’s victory in the election, both of which earned equal amounts of laughter.
At the end, Dave Itzkoff of The New York Times came out to moderate a Q&A with Thompson and Che.
My favorite part of the Q&A was when the comedians explained their paths towards becoming a cast member of Saturday Night Live. It provided a lot of insight for aspiring and amateur comedians. It was comforting to hear that our dreams of being on SNL that seem so impossible also seemed impossible to the 14-season legend and the new favorite Update anchor.
You can see more of Kenan Thompson and Michael Che on Saturday Night Live on NBC at 11:30 p.m. EST. Michael Che’s hour-long comedy special Michael Che Matters can be found on Netflix.
*Stand-Up Term: to kill (verb): to do well on stage, make the audience laugh a lot, etc.