TNL Comedian Causes Controversy

This week’s Tuesday Night Live performer brought comedy and controversy to the Ramapo stage at 9:30 p.m. in Friends Hall. Ashley Wood showcased her musical talents as the student opener and Marianne Sierk, a comedian from Los Angeles, followed her.

Sierk, originally from New York, has performed on Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham,” NBC’s “Comics Unleashed with Byron Allen” and BBC’s “The World Stands Up.”

“We viewed videos of her performing,” CPB e-board member Geneva Gamblin said. “Typically when we choose performers from TNL it is done at a conference called NACA. As CPB we are responsible for setting up the programs and shows such as TNL and choosing the performers we think the school would enjoy.”

With jokes ranging from shooting her boyfriend, to AIDS and a few outdated jokes in between some students thought the comedian was not only boring, but also offensive.

“I’m not sure if tonight’s [show] stemmed from Ms. Sierk’s genuine lack of talent, or if she saw the abysmal turnout and simply thought, ‘F- it,’ but it was an hour full of quiet laughter induced solely by fear or awkwardness,” senior Jasper Basch said. “I have never been so uncomfortable in my life, and this is also the first time ever that I feared for my life at a comedy show.”

With a small group of attendees, members of the audience were brought onto the stage, and it seemed that the comedian had a tough time connecting with the audience.

“I had a good time, but the comedian was difficult to understand,” Wood said. “Some of her jokes were out-of-date, and others made the audience downright uncomfortable. I wonder if this was because there was very few people in the audience, as that can certainly make a performer feel awkward.”

Associate Director of Student Involvement Eddie Seavers was made aware of the concerns of students yesterday morning.

“I found out about the concerns from an e-board member late Wednesday morning,” Seavers said. “Geneva [Gamblin] has office hours Wednesday afternoon, and since she was present at the event, I spoke with her directly to get information about what happened. I got the full details of the events from Geneva.”

Gamblin is a member of the College Programming Board, which is currently looking into the concerns expressed and are speaking with both the agency and the comedian. At press time, Seavers was in talks with the comedian regarding student concerns.

During an interview with Sierk, the comedian discussed her love of performing in front of a college crowd.

“First of all, college kids don’t drink. I mean the ones that drink aren’t at comedy shows. There’s like a whole chunk of material you don’t want to talk about. And it’s venues like this that are ideal, that are super lit up,” Sierk said. “A comedy club [is] made for comedy, whereas sometimes I’m in a dining hall and sometimes I’m in a big conference room. It’s always random and that’s the challenge. And the college kids are usually so into it that it makes it fun.”

Several students found the comedy show awkward but tried to make the best of the situation.

“Although some of the jokes were funny, she could have had better transitions connecting one joke to the next. At times, she seemed frazzled and unprepared,” junior Allison Gutworth said.

While there were diverse perspectives over Sierk’s performance, CPB is dedicated to giving students an enjoyable performance every other week at TNL.

“We will continue to serve the students through all our programming including the Tuesday Night Live series,” Seavers said. “If any students specifically want to talk with us, we have e-board members who have 18 hours of office hours during the week, and I am available throughout the week as well so we can talk with them in person.”

The next TNL will feature a hip-hop electronic violinist on April 2.

Assistant A&E Editor Rebecca King and Staff Writer Thomas Davis contributed to the information in this article.