On Saturday night, roars of laughter could be heard from Lecture Hall 1 as popular comedian and Endicott native DeAnne Smith entertained students on topics such as sexuality, feminism and iClickers.
The Student Association Programming Board (SAPB) brought the comedian to Binghamton University as the first stand-up act of the fall semester. Smith has been active since 2006, when she performed her first stand-up show in Montreal. Two years later, she would debut a solo show and begin touring, leading her to accolades like the Sydney Comedy Festival’s Time Out Best Newcomer Award. Years later, videos of her routines would rack up millions of views, pushing her into the mainstream. Many students in attendance noted that these videos were what put her on their radar prior to the campus performance.
“We love her,” said Sarah Voegler, an event attendee and a senior majoring in history, referring to her friends in attendance. “We’ve seen all her viral videos.”
The opener for the show was Jillian Pizzuto, comedy chair of SAPB and a junior majoring in Spanish. Pizzuto, who was involved in the coordination of the event, noted that she was unsure whether she would be the comedy chair for this semester, but had her eye set on Smith either way. Pizzuto was chosen as chair, and Smith’s agent reached out informing that she was doing a college tour. Pizzuto said she instantly knew she had to bring Smith to the University.
“I realized this was an opportunity to get her before she was big, [and] found out she was having a Netflix special in January; the price was very much in our budget, so I thought this would be a great opportunity just so people can be like, ‘I saw her before her tickets were a thousand each,” Pizzuto said.
Pizzuto’s comedy set touched on both the amusing and perplexing experiences of sexual identity.
“Lesbians don’t get STDs,” Pizzuto said in her performance. “Hopefully. What lesbians do get is either daddy issues, asthma or lactose intolerance. I have not met a single lesbian that didn’t have at least one of the three.”
Similarly, Smith began her set by addressing the perceptions people may have of lesbians and of her own image, choosing to confirm and embrace them rather than reject them.
“I’m vegan, you guys,” Smith said. “Well, you know, of course I am. I am everything I look like I am. There’s no surprises in me. I always, always, always, for years wanted to get one of those shirts that say, ‘This is what a feminist looks like.’ But I knew exactly that if I ever wore it, everyone would just be like, ‘Yeah, duh. We get it.’”
Smith’s politically charged humor did not shy away from addressing heavier topics such as gender inequality and homophobia, as she sarcastically comforted men in the audience after making biting remarks about her own experiences as a woman.
“Men. There is not enough media that caters specifically to you and your points of view, so anything that I can do to help make this a ‘safe space’ for you,” she said.
While the subject of Smith’s own identity was centerstage in her performance, a close runner-up might have been the setting of Lecture Hall. The comedian noted that she was constantly distracted by her surroundings, and noticed the technology used for larger survey courses. When an audience member offered up their iClicker that they use in class, Smith riffed on the course-required device as an interlude to what was otherwise a rehearsed set.
“If you take nothing else from this show, let it be that you can get the least amount of information you can get about something and then immediately make a sweeping judgment,” Smith said. “That’s what I’m doing about the whole clicker system. Fuck it. That’s what I’m saying. DeAnne Smith doesn’t stand for the clicker system.”
Despite these distractions, Smith said she was constantly aware of the fact that she was performing for a college audience, and that the audience composition made her consider how appropriate her jokes and delivery were.
“It’s very fun to be with that kind of energy, and campuses are unique because in general there’s like a homogeneous experience,” Smith said. “And then I feel like my job is to have fun and give us one more cool shared experience.”