H. Jon Benjamin takes Graham Chapel stage
SPB comedian covers topics from Trump to Student Life
H Jon Benjamin, the voice behind animated comedy characters Bob Belcher from “Bob’s Burgers” and Sterling Archer from “Archer,” delivered a performance that dove into everything from diversity in comedy to President Donald Trump in Graham Chapel Wednesday night.
Benjamin headlined the Social Programming Board show after he was chosen by students in the biannual survey SPB sends out to students. While not a stand-up comedian by trade, Benjamin delivered a show featuring many different types of comedy supported by online articles, videos and photos.
The survey featured comedians including Eric Andre, Vanessa Bayer and Jessica Williams, but Benjamin ranked highly and was available. After SPB announced Benjamin as the performer, the group faced criticism for bringing in another white male comedian.
“Thanks white skin, that’s a huge ‘f— you’ to women and people of color,” Benjamin replied after learning of this complaint.
Benjamin opened his act with Washington University-specific humor, mentioning how “glad” he was to be in Missouri. Benjamin also ad-libbed for roughly 15 minutes, quoting Student Life’s article on the announcement of his performance.
“So, this morning I got up, and I did what I normally do and made myself a cup of tea and pulled out a copy of Student Life,” Benjamin said. “This morning I was reading my Student Life like I always do, and I see I’m in it! In Student Life, there’s an article about me, and I’m like ‘Oh my god!’”
After quoting several students who all voiced general ambivalence in response to the announcement he was coming, Benjamin sarcastically responded to Student Life.
“Thanks Student Life! That’s a really welcoming thank you,” Benjamin said. “Getting things started off on the right track…Nobody wants me.”
Benjamin then moved into what has become common ground for comedians: Trump.
“I’m not a Trump fan, per se. I like parts of him,” Benjamin said. “Love his legs.”
Aware of the fact that the majority of Washington University students are liberal, Benjamin actively voiced his disapproval of President Trump multiple times.
“I was very upset when Trump got elected,” Benjamin said. “It was one of those crazy things I couldn’t believe. I still can’t believe it. But it seems to be going well!”
Benjamin specifically mentioned his experiences at past colleges, most of which had student bodies with political climates similar to Washington University’s.
“I’ve done a few colleges, and predominantly, there’s not a lot of Trump fans,” Benjamin said. “But I did this one college in Indiana and asked the same question and half the people yelled yes. And that was really bad for me. There was no way out of that hole…That was the worst show I’ve ever done.”
After some more traditional stand-up, Benjamin moved on to other bits, featuring a video about a dildo, photos of him taking ecstasy with his nine-year-old son and a detailed history of a band that has been performing since the 1970s with interchangeable members.
The majority of students expressed enthusiasm for the performance following the show, including freshman Kirk Brown.
“I’ve been a huge fan of ‘Archer’ for a couple years now, and I just started ‘Bob’s Burgers’ last semester,” Brown said. “Being able to put a face to that iconic voice was pretty cool.”
Although Benjamin did discuss Washington University and St. Louis, freshman Jacob Linker pointed out that the majority of his performance was spent on prepared skits.
“I liked how he went to the audience and tried to interact with some people. I, however, would’ve liked for him to elaborate on it more, as opposed to just saying a few words to each student,” Linker said. “I wish he talked more about Wash. U. and what students go through here, like [fall comedy show headliner] Colin Jost did.”
Benjamin was originally listed in SPB’s survey alongside comedian Dan Mintz, the voice behind Tina Belcher from “Bob’s Burgers.” Mintz was unable to come because of a scheduling conflict, but SPB president and sophomore Noah Truwit pointed out that Mintz’s unavailability left extra budget on the table.
“We’re evaluating our options, and just trying to figure out how to make the most fun for the students,” Truwit said.
In the end, Truwit and sophomore Sam Posner, SPB’s comedy director, both thought Benjamin did a great job on the big stage.
“I think the audience loved it. Their involvement was great,” Posner said.
“He was a great pleasure to host, both onstage and off,” Truwit added. “He has a great personality.”