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Who is Jim Breuer? The comedian who’s bringing his show to Harvard on Oct. 21 is an accomplished one, no doubt. He spent four years on Saturday Night Live (SNL) and gave a hilarious performance as Brian in the 1999 comedy Half Baked. But at $14 per ticket for Harvard students and $19 for regular admission—in addition to the $15,000 subsidy being put forward by the Undergraduate Council, bringing the total cost of the performance to $30,000—Breuer is a tough sell.
For a B-list comedian—not of the air of Chappelle, Farrell or Ali G—that’s a painful check to sign. If the council succeeds in filling up 1,166 seats in Sanders Theater it will be because students are in the mood for some stand-up; Breuer is not the draw (that is, outside the realm of the SNL devotees out there—and there are fewer of you than you think). So, as long as we’re not paying for a name to sell seats, why are we paying so much?
For a fraction of the price, the council could have sought out stand-up’s rising stars like Nick Swardson (asking price: $7500) or Jim Gaffigan (asking price: $6500). Who’s Jim Gaffigan? Try this for a pitch: the “meow” scene in Super Troopers—he’s Mr. Larry Johnson sitting in the driver’s seat. Now that lends itself to some good marketing.
Still a tough sell? No problem: Ticket prices could have been slashed to levels that don’t make students think twice about paying for a laugh. Or we could have made the whole event free—and for the same cost as Breuer, ran a second one in January when we really need a laugh to break the ice on our noses. Gaffigan and Swardson are at the top of the comedy circuit today and few could make a convincing case that Breuer offers a better show.
Council President Matthew W. Mahan ’05 is right in saying that with an increased budget the council should provide more large-scale social events; but large-scale events don’t necessitate large-scale price tags and can happen more often without them. This student body voted last spring to trust the council with a bigger budget to improve the quality of student life at Harvard. Here’s some advice to go along with it: save the big bank for big names, get more creative with large-scale but low-cost, and don’t waste our money on “in between.” If bringing Gaffigan instead of Breuer means last spring’s concert could have been upgraded from Busta Rhymes to Outkast, I’ll take a better show by Outkast and an equal laugh from Gaffigan.
Speaking of B-list stars, who’s Bob Dylan? Just kidding; good catch.
Michael B. Broukhim ’07, a Crimson editorial editor, is a social studies concentrator in Dunster House.
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