November 10, 2016
Comedians Neko White and Phill Hunt came to campus last Saturday night, giving a genuinely memorable, hilarious performance. I’ve only been to a few comedy shows here, but I can say with confidence that this was my favorite.
After a promising debut from student comedian Anna Maglio ’18, Phill Hunt took the stage. His slow, careful delivery made for an interesting contrast to Maglio’s nervous energy. His style is basically in the tradition of classic observational comedy, covering a wide range of topics. He plucks situations from life we’ve all experienced before (restaurant bathroom signs reminding employees to wash their hands, depressing bus rides) and displays them in all of their absurd glory, making you think differently about things you’ve seen a million times before.
My personal favorite moment, for non-comedic reasons, was his calling out somebody in the front row for yelling out contributions mid-joke. This is stand-up, not Improv 101. We’re not here to see you.
The highlight of the evening was definitely Neko White’s set. White is a quickly rising 23-year-old comedian from Harlem, N.Y., and he absolutely killed it. Unlike Hunt’s laid-back style, White takes full advantage of his gangly 6’3” frame, imbuing every punch line with hilarious physicality. His material is smart too. Growing up in a multicultural neighborhood and very much of our generation, he is incredibly adept at presenting politically incorrect (not necessarily offensive) ideas to an audience that tends to be a little sensitive. Watching him navigate that environment, stiffening the audience with a controversial statement before slaying everyone with a well-crafted joke again and again, was incredible.
If you’ve ever watched Steph Curry on a good night, hitting ridiculous, miracle shots, each one from further away than the last, then you have an accurate idea of White’s performance. I never thought I’d see an NBA player sink 400 three-pointers in one season, and I never thought I’d see a comedian make a Hamilton College crowd laugh hard at a Caitlyn Jenner bit. This year, I was proven wrong on both accounts.