Comedian Melissa McGillicuddy performed her set for St. Olaf College students on the evening of Saturday, Feb. 20 over Zoom. With a small crowd of around 30 students, McGillicuddy faced the challenge of performing to mostly black screens, an experience that our professors know all too well. McGillicuddy was able to soldier on, though she was only able to deliver a mediocre performance.
To her credit, McGillicuddy created an open dialogue with the audience through a strong set filled with clever jokes. She also assumed a casual presence that proved very entertaining. Several students, including myself, filled the Zoom chat with our own jokes in response to hers to keep things interesting. At times, it felt like there were several comedians delivering performances due to the active nature of the chat. McGillicuddy did take advantage of the audience participation and utilized student reactions and chat responses to make the show feel more personal.
While it was fun to participate and read the interactions between the audience and McGillicuddy, those interactions were the funniest part of the night. An older audience would consider McGillicuddy’s jokes funny and relatable but young college students who have not experienced post-college life could not relate to her jokes.
Zoom also played a large factor in the chemistry of the comedy show experience. Comedians rely on being able to connect to audiences and feel the vibe in the room, which McGillicuddy was unable to do over Zoom despite her best efforts. The hindrance of technology in addition to the stale jokes made the performance fall a little flat.
Overall, it was an enjoyable experience to watch and laugh at Zoom comments with friends. McGillicuddy would have landed a five-star rating if her audience was filled with millennials, but she had a harder time reaching an undergraduate audience with jokes that many had already seen on Twitter and TikTok.