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SNL comedians take stage for stand-up show

Michael Che performs a stand-up set in Ryan Auditorium on Wednesday. The “Saturday Night Live” cast member took the stage for an event hosted by A&O Productions and Northwestern Sketch Television.

Noah Frick-Alofs/The Daily Northwestern

Michael Che performs a stand-up set in Ryan Auditorium on Wednesday. The “Saturday Night Live” cast member took the stage for an event hosted by A&O Productions and Northwestern Sketch Television.

Maddie Burakoff, Web Editor

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As soon as he stepped onto the Ryan Auditorium stage, Michael Che acknowledged that some audience members might be uncomfortable with his jokes.

“I’m OK with that,” he said.

Che, who is known for his role as co-anchor of the Weekend Update on “Saturday Night Live,” performed for about 400 people as part of a spring stand-up show hosted by A&O Productions and Northwestern Sketch Television. Fellow SNL writer Julio Torres and Communication junior Nabeel Muscatwalla also performed, and NSTV debuted a sketch from its new season.

A&O co-chair Will Corvin said the group wanted to bring Torres and Che because of their growing “notoriety” in the world of stand-up comedy. Successful comedy, the Weinberg senior said, is based in truth.

“A good stand-up comedian is really able to … point out things in everyday life that people might not have noticed before,” Corvin said. “They’re just able to blow it up and show people what’s been right in front of them the whole time, and get some laughs on the way.”

During his performance, Che discussed racist implications of the “white girl” word “sketchy,” a conspiracy theory that Ronald Reagan was a lizard who invented crack cocaine and a new, “more realistic” movie he claimed to be writing in the “Avengers” series.

“Thor accidentally kills an unarmed black teenager, and the Avengers have to rescue him from indictment,” Che said. “How much money do you think that’ll make?”

Che also incorporated improvisation and engaged with members of the audience during his set. After noticing chemistry Prof. Sir Fraser Stoddart in the front row, Che began a banter with the Nobel Prize recipient — whom he referred to as “Sir Sir” — and asked for his thoughts on topics from nanotechnology to Donald Trump voters. Che prompted the crowd to sing “happy birthday” to Stoddart after learning it was his 75th birthday.

Communication sophomore Maya Armstrong said she enjoyed Che’s improvisational style, and had known from watching his work that Che might be “incendiary.”

“Being at Northwestern I’m used to people being very politically correct all the time, or very careful about their words,” Armstrong said. “There were times when (Che) would say stuff where I’d be like, ‘I feel like someone could get offended by this’ … He just doesn’t phrase stuff the way that we very particularly phrase things here.”

The other two performers also addressed political issues during their sets.

Torres told a series of parables about political figures — like Melania Trump discovering her shadow, or Laura Bush comforting her husband by saying he’s “not the worst president anymore.”

Muscatwalla spoke about his experience applying for U.S. citizenship and his interviewer’s insistence that he renounce his allegiance to India.

“On the one hand, I’d be giving up something very important to my identity, this allegiance to a country where I get my culture, where I get my heritage,” Muscatwalla said. “But on the other hand, I could finally get TSA PreCheck.”

Weinberg junior Isabella Pinerua, who attended the event, said she thought the show was “out of the ordinary” for a stand-up comedy event.

“(Che) really did whatever he wanted to do, which was really fun to watch,” Pinerua said. “It’s great to see a really strong lineup and people you recognize on the stage.”

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Twitter: @madsburk