Students, parents and community members filled the Events Center on Friday for the annual Family Weekend comedy show, sponsored by the Student Association Programming Board. The evening was hosted by comedian Joe List and featured Chris Gethard, who is known for his HBO special “Chris Gethard: Career Suicide,” and Colin Quinn of “Girls” and “Saturday Night Live” headlined the show. Pipe Dream sat down with the comedians to talk performing together, stage fright and being back on a college campus. Pipe Dream has edited this interview for length and clarity.
Pipe Dream: Have you guys all ever been in a set together?
Colin Quinn: No, this is the first time. And just from the drive up, I’ll be honest, it’s not gonna happen again. We started out fighting — me and Joe — Chris was making the peace in the back. But there was a lot of tension between all three of us. We stopped in Chester [New York] at a diner. That was uncomfortable. I paid the bill because, you know, and then we got up here. Joe was mad because we didn’t stop at Starbucks — just a lot of little things going on.
Joe List: I wasn’t mad, I just enjoy a certain tea that they have at Starbucks.
PD: And what tea would that be?
JL: Jade citrus mint. If anyone from Starbucks is listening, I love your tea.
PD: I feel like when you perform in a set with other people, it’s disjointed since you don’t perform together — just one after another. Do the other people performing affect you or your energy?
CQ: If somebody’s really crude, not us, but if there’s a really vile, crude comedian on before you and then you go up there like, “Hey you guys,” it changes the energy sometimes — it does affect you.
JL: But not too bad, the three of us — I felt great.
CQ: No, I felt fine tonight.
JL: I think it’s harder when there’s someone not good in front of you. I feel like we’re skilled comedians.
Chris Gethard: I felt jointed, personally. I did not feel disjointed, I felt jointed.
PD: So then how is it to be able to perform with people who you seem to enjoy?
JL: I’m miserable, no I’m just kidding. I think it’s great. We all like each other, I think we have a mutual respect for each other. I hope — I’m just speaking for myself.
CG: I also think part of the culture, especially in New York, is [that] you get to know [the] people you know as friends, but more so from doing shows around each other and crossing paths. I think the big sign that we all respect each other is that we chose to travel together. I think that is kind of the unspoken code and sometimes you get put on a show with someone and you run into them in New York and you’re like, “We’re doing a show together” and [they’re] like, “Cool, I’ll see you there.”
JL: I have, countless times, been like, “I got to go visit my grandmother, so I gotta take my own car, don’t worry about it,” and I have no grandmother. I’m just kidding, I have three. But yeah, sometimes you lie to get out of traveling. But we all traveled together because we knew Colin would pay for lunch.
CG: I wasn’t certain of it, but I wasn’t surprised.
PD: I was watching an episode of your show, Chris, and you said that having Colin on set makes you nervous. Did you feel that way today?
CG (at times, directed at Colin Quinn): No, after I said that on TV, I think you kind of went out of your way to explain to me that that was a socially uncomfortable thing to express in front of you and to cut it out. But you know, I always really make a point of trying to study the people who I think do things the right way and have set the tone for what I get to do. Colin in particular is someone that I think every comedian in New York would put at the top of the list of people you admire for everything he’s done. And I know that sincerity doesn’t always play well with comedians, but it’s just true. Colin is someone who’s great. He’s also like, joke Yoda, like since we’ve gotten to know each other a little bit. There have been times where I’ve reached out to you for help, and I was like, “I have this joke and I can’t do it.” And jokes that I struggle with for months, you have stepped in and been like, “Just do this” and then I’m like, “Oh, that,” and then it works every time. So he is someone I just have an immense amount of respect for and that creates anxiety.
JL: I agree with everything that you said about Colin — except the joke advice. Twice, Colin has told me, “You should say that on stage,” and both times, the things bombed. You’re like, “That’s good, that’s a bit, that’s funny.”
CQ: I’d like to see what those were and how you put them together.
PD: I like the idea of the joke Yoda. Do you all have one joke Yoda, or multiple?
CQ: I feel like it’s multiple. I mean, that’s the thing with all of the comedians. You know, it’s like, on the one hand, you’re like, you know they can help your act. On the other hand you’re just like, “I don’t want help” — because you don’t want someone to come up with your joke, you just wanted them to help you fix it. But if they come up with the punch line and you do it and it does great, inevitably, people are gonna come up to you during your set, for years — this happened to me, this happens to everybody — and go, “You were great, that one joke you did was the best.” And you’re like, “Dammit, my friend gave me that one.”
PD: You guys all got your start in your late teens or early 20s — now, being on a college campus where everyone is that age, how does it feel being in that atmosphere?
JL: I feel — I mean I don’t wanna hurt anyone’s feelings up here because I’m the youngest — but I feel old on a college [campus]. I feel old and creepy and weird, I feel like everyone’s like, “Who’s this weirdo walking around?” and I can’t wait to get out of here. That’s mostly serious.
CG: It always brings back memories for me, especially at state schools, because I went to a state school. I was just so hungry for it and motivated when I was a kid at school in New Jersey. I was feeling so frustrated decided to just go all in and chase the dream and start going to New York and doing comedy and it does always bring me back to that place. And I find that usually at least once or twice, when I’m at a college, someone will say, “How do I do comedy?” and I always try to give good advice, ‘cause I remember being like a frustrated artsy kid just wondering how to get it out of my system and how to put it into the world. It brings back a lot of nostalgia for me about feeling that hunger when I started.
CQ: I used to do a lot of college tours; I was on MTV before you guys were born, we used to do colleges all the time, and even then I was too old for it. But it was so funny, the difference. Like, in those days, people were just always drunk and tired, you know the drinking culture was just so big, I feel like it’s just not the same. I feel like people are more sophisticated in some way, but what do I know, you all could be leaving here and going to some drunken place.
Audience Member*: Did you guys have any advice for someone that has aspired to be a comedian, tries to do the thing in New York and then kind of gave up, but they’re still interested in comedy?
CG: I think not giving up. I think people forget that not giving up is actually a skill. You know, I think that bailing and persevering are very underestimated things in your yearly days. I think like, in my opinion, if you’re not funny, you’re not going to make it. So if you’re a funny person, it’s almost like in your early days — in my opinion — it’s almost like funny is an overrated quality. Funny is not going to get you through as much as persevering and getting back up, because it’s not going to work every time, because just being funny is kind of the starting point.
*Karoline Kaon, a first-year graduate student studying teaching English to speakers of other languages