Last Friday, comedian and producer Nick Kroll performed stand-up for a crowd of adoring students at the College Ave Gymnasium while on his “Middle-Aged Boy Tour.” The event, hosted by Rutgers University Programming Association (RUPA), attracted hundreds of students.
Though in the entertainment industry since 2004, Kroll is most well-known among college students for his work on the show “Big Mouth.” Kroll creates, co-produces and performs more than 30 voices on the show, which is based on his own childhood. The show deals with a group of seventh-graders who explore the awkwardness and drama that comes with puberty and middle school.
Before Kroll walked onto the makeshift stage, his easily recognizable voice boomed behind the set to introduce his opening act. Emmy Blotnick, a comedian based in New York, walked out, doing a quick circle lap around the stage as if to assert her quirky and awkward millennial persona.
Despite being virtually unknown until she walked out, the crowd loved Blotnick. People were smiling the entire time she performed. A few students looked at one another and nodded in disbelief because of how much she had exceeded their expectations.
Her jokes were so funny because of how relatable they were. She joked about how she couldn’t recognize Michael Phelps in an advertisement about depression because he was “on land,” not wearing a swimsuit. Blotnick made the room of most likely sad college students feel better that even someone as loved and accomplished as Phelps can have depression.
Many laughs later, Blotnick walked off the stage and many stood up and clapped as she was exiting. Kroll went on shortly after, jumping on the stage and instantly matching the crowd’s excited energy.
He started the set by waving at all parts of the room, as if personally thanking everyone for coming out to see him. Kroll’s first joke was that he didn’t really have any Rutgers material. He then said, “I don’t know, did you all take a bus to get there?” which was a hit with the audience.
Comedians usually tell their own personal stories as their stand-up. Sometimes, they’re lying, but nobody really minds because it makes for great content. Kroll introduced himself as the youngest child of four, and indicated that this played a great deal in his character formation.
He went on to say that he has trouble not telling the truth about himself during his stand-up, making a sort of pact with the audience that he would be providing his most authentic self.
With jokes ranging from dealing with break-ups, being emotional, weed and a lot of butt references, Kroll had the entire crowd laughing hysterically. For a little more than an hour, people forgot about exam grades or impending assignments, and laughed at this small 41-year-old man making jokes about his life.
What gained Kroll the most laughs was probably when he said: “Football will be gone in five years but I don’t think that will be a problem for you guys.” The whole crowd clapped vigorously at this nod to Rutgers football’s poor form.
At one point during the middle of his set, he started doing a series of voices from “Big Mouth.” The audience ate it up, cheering as his voice went from Nick Birch, Coach Steve, Maurice the Hormone Monster, Lola Skumpy and other familiar voices to any “Big Mouth” lover.
Michael Leitner, a School of Engineering first-year, said he was excited to see Kroll perform stand-up. “I really love Nick Kroll … I also love stand-up comedy and I like to perform stand-up comedy, so it’s just a really cool experience.”
The audience was sad to see Kroll walk off, taking his talk of babies, heartbreak, corporations and sleep hypnosis with him. Some audience members were even planning on streaming Kroll’s show after his performance, just to get more of his humor.