Birbiglia's "Stand Up and Vote" pokes fun at politics, Ha Ha Hofstra
Mike Birbiglia’s “Stand Up and Vote” tour made a stop at Hofstra’s Monroe Hall on Thursday, Sept. 20, featuring three guest comedians – Sam Jay, Tom Thakkar and Ted Alexandro – as part of Birbiglia’s mission to encourage college students to vote in the upcoming general election. Before coming to Hofstra, the tour stopped at several colleges along the East Coast, including Princeton University, Ithaca College and Pace University. Each stop featured a new set of guests, with Jim Gaffigan and Jon Stewart even joining forces with Birbiglia on prior shows.
The night was kicked off with a welcome from Hofstra’s own comedy club, Ha Ha Hofstra, which originally reached out to Birbiglia about bringing the show to Hempstead. The club’s members, led by senior Spencer Thurmond, introduced the comic with a brief history of his career. Birbiglia has had abundant success in the acting and comedy industries, with a Netflix special called “Thank God for Jokes,” a movie based on his sleepwalking disorder called “Sleepwalk with Me” and roles in movies from “The Fault in Our Stars” to “Don’t Think Twice.”
Birbiglia took the stage shortly after Ha Ha Hofstra, poking fun at Hofstra’s campus and “strange vibe,” garnering agreeable laughter from the crowd of students. Birbiglia spoke to the audience like an old friend, donning a jean jacket covered in political pins, including one from Hofstra’s recent “Hofstra Votes” campaign. The event, punningly titled “Stand Up and Vote,” showcased Birbiglia’s political candor as he poked fun at Donald Trump’s antics and the current chaos of our government.
The 40-year-old Massachusetts native playfully bantered with the audience before introducing his three guests, passing the microphone to the night’s first comedian, Jay. Youngest of the group, Jay got the crowd laughing early with her blunt and relatable delivery. Detailing her experience on ecstasy at a music festival and thoughts on Trump, Jay was an engaging opening act before the second comic of the night, Thakkar, took the stage. Thakkar, hailing from Indiana, touched on his strange family dynamic, life in a rural town and what it’s like to run a fake Twitter account for the host of the TV show “My Cat from Hell.” The last special guest was Alexandro, an ex-music teacher currently touring with Gaffigan, and a man whose career history gave him a hilarious knack for describing the strange antics of elementary school children.
The night concluded with a return from Birbiglia, who spoke affectionately about his journey as a father and husband. He reflected on his stress regarding having to teach his three-year-old daughter about the world and the chaos that she may experience due to the decisions of her elders. The new father is still learning the ropes, yet he’s sure of one thing: it is our job to take hold of the reigns and change the world for the better.
Birbiglia’s “Stand Up and Vote” tour brought an important message to Hofstra students via an accessible vessel – comedy – and allowed them the opportunity to register to vote after the show. The night concluded with genuine advice from the comedian to the crowd of 400, momentarily acting as something of a father figure. “When I was your age, about 20, I didn’t vote – I didn’t know what was going on,” Birbiglia said. “But if you have issues you’re passionate about, get out there and vote.”
Photo Courtesy Mike Birbiglia