SNL cast members Bowen Yang, Chloe Fineman headline A&O Winter Speaker event


Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

Comedian Chloe Fineman performed at A&O Winter speaker event. She co-headlined with fellow SNL cast member Bowen Yang.

Ryann Perlstein, Reporter

When Communication freshman Sam Buttress was asked to join SNL cast member Bowen Yang on stage at the A&O Productions’ winter speaker event Sunday, he said he was nervous.

“My legs were shaking a little bit,” Buttress said. “I was just sitting front and center because that’s where my friends were sitting, and then he asked for someone (to come on stage) and I was like, ‘I’m right here.’”

Yang called Buttress on stage to participate in his stand-up act, part of A&O Productions’ 2020 Winter Speaker Event, which he co-headlined with fellow SNL cast member Chloe Fineman. The event, held in Ryan Auditorium, also featured opening act Langston Kerman, an actor best known for his role of Jered on HBO’s “Insecure” and Comedy Central Half-Hour stand-up special “Lightskinned Feelings.”

Kerman began his act by telling the audience that they were too “tense.” He then discussed a range of experiences, including his time as a teacher when he learned that kids are “mean” and his life as a newlywed.

When Fineman took the stage, she performed impressions of famous people such as Meryl Streep, Drew Barrymore, Timothée Chalamet and Melania Trump. She then asked audience members for requests of celebrities she should impersonate. When someone suggested Morgan Freeman, Fineman said, “I have a lane. It’s white women, and I stay in it.”

Yang, the first Chinese American and third openly gay cast member on SNL, performed after Fineman. For many in the audience, a highlight of Yang’s act was his “Allyship Quiz.”

Yang projected questions onto a screen and asked Buttress to answer them. One example was his version of the game “F–k, marry, kill,” but instead of those terms, Yang used “icon, ally and electric chair.” Then, three pictures appeared on the screen, and Buttress was asked to match which person received which title. The three people were Meghan McCain, Rachel Dolezal and Yang’s father, Ruilin Yang.

Yang brought Buttress on stage to answer six multiple-choice questions about which character or famous person would be the best LGBTQ ally. He said there were correct answers, but Buttress only got one of these questions correct according to Yang’s subjective answer key.

“There’s a little bit of me that’s mad I didn’t do better on that test he gave, even though I know it’s for comedy purposes,” Buttress said. “But it was fun. I thought it was funny.”

A&O’s goal in creating this production was to bring new faces in comedy to the Northwestern community.

A&O President and Communication senior Avery Powell said this year, the group wanted to bring younger comedians to campus that would connect more with the student body than older comedians might.

“With Bowen doing so well on SNL and him being the first (Chinese) American, and (with) how well Chloe is doing, we thought they would be a great match,” Powell said.

A&O Productions speakers chair and Weinberg senior Syd Monroe said Yang and Fineman’s relatability was also influential in the success of their performance, which was their first college show.

“We were really excited we could bring both of them and offer different perspectives,” Monroe said. “It felt so relevant and not recycled or old material. I was just watching the faces of everyone and I think everyone could relate. It was refreshing comedy.”

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Twitter: @ryannperlstein

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