Known as Gayle Waters-Waters to some and Gigi the Christmas Snake to others, comedian Chris Fleming graced Binghamton University’s campus with a lively, intimate stand-up set on Thursday night.
Organized by the the Student Association Programming Board (SAPB), the event drew a sizable crowd to the Admissions Center Theatre, a room usually used as a lecture hall. Brian Walsh, a senior majoring in English, opened with a brief comedy set as the room filled beyond capacity, with attendees cramming themselves between rows of chairs and covering the floor.
Clad in a purple blazer and blue velvet pants, Fleming began his set by interacting with the audience members huddled around his feet and making quips about the venue, which grew hotter and stuffier as the evening progressed. While the comedian’s hour-long set included familiar bits such as the “Grad Student Shuffle,” it mostly consisted of material that cannot be found on YouTube. A series of jokes about theatre school, The New Yorker, boba tea and more was met with laughter and applause.
Fleming said that despite his notoriety for certain YouTube skits and songs, he tries to keep his material fresh while touring.
“You’ve gotta keep moving, and I’ve been grateful for people willing to move with me,” he said. “My creative partner, Melissa Strype, is really adamant about not going through the same doors twice … so that has kind of pushed me.”
After his set, Fleming stuck around to meet fans and take photos. As she waited in line for the meet and greet, Sophia Hall, a sophomore double-majoring in biology and art and design, said she was a fan of Fleming’s YouTube videos, which she started watching this year.
“He has the analogies that just capture everything so perfectly,” she said. “[He has] a way with words.”
Sarah Wood, a senior majoring in human development, is also a fan of Fleming’s videos, and said the comedian’s stage presence matched his online aesthetic.
“He was basically how I thought he would be in person, outfit and all — the energy is very cohesive,” she said.
Wood is vice president of the Women’s Student Union (WSU), and she said about half of the WSU E-Board had come to the show in support of Fleming.
“I think comedy a lot of the time uses being a jerk as a crutch, but his comedy is very much not that — it’s not based on demeaning other people,” she said. “That’s the big reason I think a lot of us like him. Our lens as feminists is to not be into comedy that’s degrading to folks and that’s hard to find, so he’s a great example of that.”
Fleming said his shows, especially his college shows, usually draw people from his internet fan base.
“These days it’s mostly people who are the kind of Tumblr army that I’ve been building over the past decade,” he said. “I think people who show up are typically familiar with what I’m doing now, which is a nice thing.”
Fleming said that while he worried about attendees of the BU show becoming delirious because of the “Rainforest Cafe vibe” that developed as the crowded room got more and more humid, he thought the show was a success.
“I love colleges … you never really know what the venue is gonna be, so I find it to be a really fun, enthusiastic space,” he said. “It was a lovely crowd. They were really sweet and hopefully, they’re not too dehydrated right now.”