SNL’s Colin Jost provides unique experience for new students

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Photo Courtesy of Amanda Brennan

Colin Jost walks across the stage at the State Farm Center. Colin Jost preformed for new and transfer students as a nice welcome to campus.

By Amanda Brennan, Contributing Writer

Live from the State Farm Center, it’s Saturday night! As part of Welcome Week 2021, the University welcomed Saturday Night Live Head Writer and Weekend Update Segment Host Colin Jost to campus Saturday. The show was open to new and transfer students, and it was truly a lively, exhilarating way to kick off the school year.

Students filed into the State Farm Center, filling the floor, the 100 level and even part of the 200 level. A DJ got the crowd pumped up and dancing before opening acts Maggie Winters and Calvin Evans took the stage for some short stand-up acts.

Diya Thomas, freshman in LAS, said she constantly watches clips of SNL on YouTube.

“I’m a big SNL comedy person, and I’m really excited to see Colin Jost,” she said. “I’m just excited for the whole thing.”

This wasn’t Jost’s first time on the University campus (or as he called it, “yuke” because he claims that “we have too many nicknames for our school” and that “UIUC” doesn’t roll off the tongue easily). In fact, he was here about ten years ago performing in a small cafeteria where he said students were more interested in the free pizza than the guy sitting on stage with a microphone.

Last Saturday, however, the tables had turned. Students in the State Farm Center were much more interested in Jost’s stand-up show than anything else going on.

He started off his show with Champaign-themed jokes, including poking fun at our beloved nickname “Chambana.”

“That sounds like something you’d use to clean up champagne,” he said. “Or, it’s like, do you want champagne with some banana in it?”

He also commented on our large Greek system, catapulting him into speaking a few sentences in Greek (yes, you read that right, Greek).

It was clear that he absolutely loved interacting with the audience as they shouted out silly questions and phrases.

“I love your wife!” someone in the audience said. “Thank you, me too,” Jost responded. This was a popular interaction.

He also asked the audience what their majors were, and man, that was a fun bit.

“Accounting!” someone said. Jost responded, “Oh, I’m sorry.” “Political Science!” someone else said. “The only non-science science?” Jost asked.

Then he always circled back to a new joke he wanted to test on the audience, one being a turtle joke. He was even cracking himself up on stage! It somehow made the audience laugh, too, even though it didn’t make complete sense. Everyone just went along with it because hey, it’s Colin Jost.

In between telling funny stories about his college experience, hilarious travel fails and his Weekend Update co-host Michael Che, he also snuck in sketches from SNL that had either been censored by NBC or not chosen in the pitch meetings.

When I saw the live taping of the SNL Season 46 finale back in May, it meant I had a front-row seat to the famous joke swap between Che and Jost during their Weekend Update segment. Well, as if those jokes weren’t dicey enough, Jost gave the audience a little taste of the jokes that did not make it on air at the event. He did a bit on the diary of Anne Frank, then a bit on Osama Bin Laden, so yeah, we know why NBC censored a few of those.

Toward the end of his show, one student yelled out, “Is this where you’re going to send your kid?” He quickly replied, “Hell yeah!” and then the crowd instantly erupted in loud, excited cheers. So, will Cosmo be included in the class of 2043? Maybe he’ll be the next Jost to perform on the “yuke” campus.

Jost ended on a serious note by sharing his own college advice.

“I want to genuinely wish you guys a great time here at school,” he said. “College can be the best thing of your life. If it’s weird at first or hard at first, don’t panic. It can be tough at the beginning, but it gets better. Please, enjoy it. Do everything you can to meet and find good friends. Funny friends are better because if you do something bad you can laugh about it. Please enjoy your time, that’s my message to you.” 

For hardcore SNL fans, this evening of laughter and fun was a dream come true. Colin Jost on our own college campus? For free? Say no more!