Up-and-coming SNL star Colin Jost to perform at the MUB

By Ken Johnson
On April 1, 2014

The Memorial Union Building will be hosting featured Saturday Night Live cast member Colin Jost on April 18. Jost only recently became a featured player on SNL on March 1 of this year. However, he has been writing for the show since 2005 and has been the co-head writer since 2012. During this time he was nominated for five Emmy awards and won a Peabody award and three Writers Guild of America awards. Prior to working at Saturday Night Live, Jost was a writer for, and later president of, "The Harvard Lampoon." 

Dave Zamansky, assistant director of the Memorial Union Building, saw Jost at the National Association for Campus Activities National Conference, which was held in Boston this February. Jost was one of the main stage performers at the convention on the first night, during which he did a 30-minute set. One of the pieces Jost performed was an SNL sketch that never went on the air.

"That one bit really stuck in my mind," Zamansky said. 

Zamansky didn't consider bringing Jost to UNH because of the cost. However, Zamansky said he received an email about a week after the conference from an agency that UNH utilizes, stating that Jost was willing to drop his price during SNL's off-season.

"Typically there are not too many times that you get an opportunity to have an affordable up-and-coming star that would fill a room," Zamansky said.

Every person or program brought to UNH by the MUB goes through the MUB Board of Governors, which is comprised of students, faculty, staff and alumni.

"We watched a couple of clips of Colin in the meeting and they said, 'This is a no-brainer, let's do it,'" Zamansky said. "... I'm excited because it's an opportunity for UNH to see a guy that probably will be out of our price range within another year or two, or even just within another week or two, really."

Since 1989, roughly nine SNL cast members have come to UNH: Adam Sandler, Dennis Miller, David Spade, Jay Mohr, Jim Breuer, Colin Quinn, Seth Meyers, Dean Edwards and Jay Pharoah, who performed here just last year. 

"One of the things we have fallen trap to over the years is that you could have an SNL player come to the University of New Hampshire but they don't have enough comedic material to fill a whole set," Zamansky said. "Colin Jost is not that." 

Jost said he's been doing stand-up for around six to seven years. He said he has been limited while working at SNL, but that he's been doing stand-up during breaks and after work.

"I try to do some, as many as I can, while I have some time off," Jost said. "I really enjoy it, but I wish I did more of it." 

Jost said that the sketches he writes for SNL develop differently for him than do his stand-up routines.

"I've been building a stand-up routine independent of SNL for a while, so I feel comfortable now touring," Jost said.

Jost said he is on the road doing stand-up at a mix of comedy clubs, theaters and college shows during most of SNL's off-weeks. He also does shows locally in New York and tries out new material.

"I try to do it every off week that we have, just to stay sharp or to try to keep building my stand-up set," Jost said.

Zamansky said that the SNL cast members tend to bring in a big crowd. The only show that Zamansky can remember that didn't sell out was David Spade, which he said surprised him, as Spade did a good job.

As of right now, Improv Anonymous is scheduled to open for Jost, Zamansky said.

"We were asked by Dave Zamansky to open for Colin, which is something we do a lot when there are comedy performances," Katie Lavallee, producer for Improv Anonymous, said.

"It's a dream for us to open for somebody who is on Saturday Night Live because I know it is a lot of our dreams to maybe one day get the opportunity to audition for SNL," Lavallee said.

Improv Anonymous has opened for Mission Improbable, Baby Wants Candy and the Upright Citizens Brigade.

"It has been a great experience for us as a college improv troupe," Lavallee said. 

The only thing Improv Anonymous plans out are which improvisational games they will play, Lavallee said.

Lavallee said they don't script anything. Rather, they usually choose five improvisational games and then ask for audience suggestions.

Improv Anonymous hasn't picked which of their 100 games they will be playing when they open for Jost yet. 

"We can expect that ... [there is] going to be a lot of audience participation to really get the crowd involved," Lavalle said.

"I hope it's a big crowd because it's just exciting when you get a lot of people in a room and they are all laughing together," Zamansky said.

"Being on a college campus is exciting. There's an energy to a college campus that you don't find pretty much anywhere else in the world," Jost said.

Colin Jost will be appearing in the Granite State Room on Friday, April 18 at 9 p.m. and there is no admission fee. No advance tickets will be sold.

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