Jimmy O. Yang kills it as UPB’s Spring Comedian


Nate Nagvajara

The talents of Jimmy O. Yang, Nate Nagvajara and Peet Guercio (left to right) made UPB’s Spring Comedian event a success.

Christie Lanfear, Life Editor

Stand-up comedy is a tricky art form. It requires bravery, practice, hard work and, most importantly, a good sense of humor. Even if you tick all those boxes, different audiences appreciate different jokes, so the ability to read the room is crucial. You also have to tell relevant jokes that push lines yet aren’t offensive either. You can’t truly appreciate the difficulty that comics face until you see them live. 

I had never been to a real stand-up show before this one, but I have to say that this year’s UPB’s Spring Comedian show, held at Severance Hall this past Friday, April 8, made a heck of a first impression.

The show was opened by Case Western Reserve University fourth-year student Nate Nagvajara. Opening a show with an audience waiting for Jimmy O. Yang, the headliner of the show, is a daunting task. However, this Spartan faced the challenge head-on and triumphed. Despite only being on stage for 10 minutes, he made quite the impression, packing in a wide variety of funny bits. He cracked jokes about CWRU, his classics major and his parents’ disapproval of his life plan. He even educated the audience about the classics major, a surprisingly funny topic considering how esoteric it is. Nagvajara proved to be incredibly relatable and did a fantastic job warming up the audience—perhaps he could consider a career in stand-up if his current course of study doesn’t work out.

Next up was special guest Peet Guercio. As a personal fan myself, I was thrilled to see his name on the program—and considering his over 200 million views over multiple platforms, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. He started with some jokes about the repeated mispronunciation of his last name, a rather plain topic that he somehow transformed into something comedic. Probably the funniest part of his time on stage, however, was his mention of Craigslist and the rather basicto say the leastnature of their website design. The creator of this extremely successful platform graduated from CWRU back in 1975, so these jokes struck a chord with us Spartans in the best of ways. Guercio’s impersonation of the website designers’ thought process had the crowd holding their sides with laughter. He also derived comedy from the common experience of misinterpreting stories, telling the crowd about a friend’s lack of storytelling skills. The correct version of the story was a simple one: date night gone right. But the way his friend decided to tell it was comically disastrous and would definitely have landed him in a police interview room. We have all been a victim of storytelling gone wrong—a source of relatability that reinforced the anecdote’s humorous effect. 

Both Nagvajara and Guercio were fantastic, but everyone knew that the best was being saved for last: Jimmy O. Yang. 

Yang is renowned for his successful acting career—featuring in “Crazy Rich Asians,” “Patriots Day,” “Space Force,” “Love Hard,” “Silicon Valley” and “Life of the Party”—as well as his widespread acclaim in the world of stand-up comedy. He even has a comedy special that was released on Amazon Prime Video in 2020. His part in the show was worthy of his reputation and featured some amazing jokes and knee-slapping stories. My favorite was his skit about having “loser friends.” He talked about how successful friends never have time to hang out, so having lots of “loser friends” is essential. This seamlessly segued into a hilarious true story about his couch-surfing “loser” friend. After manifesting a big lottery win, the friend in question actually ended up winning a large sum of money on a game show, temporarily falling into the successful category—a turning of tables that upset Yang. Even his friend’s catchphrase was funny: “That’s how the government f**** you.” At one point, he quipped about the height difference between himself and his girlfriend, as Yang is 5’6”. The focal point was her love of heels; he explained how she always says, “but heels make my a** look good.” His clapback was hilarious: “Yeah, well now it’s at my eye level.” This one killed the crowd. Before attending the show, I would easily have said that Yang was my favorite comedian. His performance cemented that choice, and I am confident that others in the crowd would say the same. 

As you can imagine, the entirety of Severance Hall was filled with laughter for the full two hours of the show. This in itself is a testament to the quality of the comedians who performed. All three of the featured comedians had their own unique style, and it was certainly a masterclass in the art of stand-up comedy. The experience inspired me to attend more stand-up comedy events in the future, and I am so grateful to UPB and CWRU for exposing me to a whole new world of entertainment.