Crowd plays crucial role in Friedlander’s comedy

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Nina Belzer, Staff Reporter

Laughter ran rampant through McAlister Auditorium on Wednesday thanks to Judah Friedlander’s interactive performance, pop culture references and deadpan delivery.

Known best for his role as Frank Rossitano on “30 Rock,” stand-up comedian Judah Friedlander came to Tulane as part of the tour for his new book “If Raindrops United: Drawings and Cartoons.” The self-proclaimed “World Champion and Master of Karate” opened the show by calling out one member of the audience’s sub-par clapping and then proceeded to ask his name and call him “Steve” instead.

“Steve” and his unimpressive clapping were running gags for the rest of the night. This set the tone for a performance that was entirely reliant on audience interaction. Topics such as the audience’s hometowns, political views and areas of study were discussed and Friedlander had quick and witty replies to all of the answers that were thrown his way.

Though this interactive humor was a nice departure from the storytelling based comedy that’s commonplace in stand-up, there were moments when it was clear that Friedlander wasn’t getting the answers he wanted. That and his reply to the audience’s feedback was always based in deadpanned sarcasm, and while this at first elicited roaring laughter, it dwindled to rolling chuckles by the end of his performance.

He attempted to revive the crowd in his last act by announcing that he was running for president in 2020. He gave the audience the opportunity to ask him questions and his replies were loaded with political satire. Some of his best lines of the night came from this segment. His response to his presidential stance on abortion was, “Oh, abortion. A topic that makes everyone comfortable,” and when asked a question about his future administration’s position on healthcare, he stated, “Everyone gets healthcare . . . except the insurance companies.” Although this segment didn’t bring nearly as much laughter as his opening act did, the political satire Friedlander presented was relevant to today’s ongoing political discussion, and proved that the comedian has much more interesting points to make than chastising “Steve’s” clapping skills.

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