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‘Speakeasy: The Faire’ Review: A Friday Night Comedy Extravaganza

The performers at "Speakeasy: The Faire," which ran at the Loeb Ex on April 19.
The performers at "Speakeasy: The Faire," which ran at the Loeb Ex on April 19. By Melissa C. Suquisupa
By Zachary J. Lech, Crimson Staff Writer

With a slew of stand-up and improv groups present on Harvard’s campus, comedy shows are no rare occurrence. But “Speakeasy: The Faire” was no ordinary comedy show. Living up to its name, it featured five stand-up comedians and musical performances, all hosted by John “Jack” F. Griffin ’25, and delivered a true reverie as diverse as the campus stand-up scene itself.

The show deftly took advantage of its small, black box venue. Welcoming the audience to the Loeb Ex were yellow chairs and tables, which, true to the show’s billing, turned the theater into something approaching a bar. There would be very little to complain about had the show fully embraced the speakeasy aesthetic and done a better job of encouraging the audience members to actually utilize the chairs and the tables. Instead, the audience members flocked to the regular seats around the set, limiting interaction and squandering an opportunity to turn mere viewers into full-fledged, interacting participants.

Further contributing to the bar atmosphere and elevating the show beyond mere comedy were the musical performances from the duo of Elyse G. Martin-Smith ’25 and Matthew B. Karle ’23-’24. Featuring a variety of songs, from “Moonlight in Vermont” to Erykah Badu’s “Green Eyes,” all to the tune of Karle’s piano, they provided not just a pleasant introduction to the “Faire” and an enjoyable intermission, but truly stood out on their own.

Stand-up was at the very heart of “Speakeasy: The Faire.” But before standing up, there was some sit-down with the performance of Max B. Allison ’25. Specifically introduced as not stand-up but rather a science experiment with a mysterious prototype device that translated brain waves into sound, with well-choreographed head movements, it was, first and foremost, bizarre. But it was entertaining, with a certain added hilarity of the ever-changing music, which was at one point even reminiscent of Emergency Medical Services sirens.

The first two stand-up comedians to perform were Pedro Manon ’25 and Dylan C. C. Pigott ’25. The two stuck close to home with their routines, poking fun as much at their own childhoods as they did at America’s problems. Manon started off with talks of prejudice and moved on to a story of a day when his grandpa “didn’t feel like getting mugged.” In Pigott’s performance, the topic of drugs featured prominently. In both cases, the jokes landed well — though in some cases, especially with Pigott, the laughs came dangerously close to coming through tears. The unexpectedly introduced idea of a five-year-old overdosing on opium, or the interesting, false tidbit about the author of “Sweet Caroline” being 50 and addressing the song to a 12-year-old girl, were as hilarious as they were soberingly horrifying.

Rave S. Andrews ’25 introduced some good ol’ uncomplicated levity to the show. Where Manon and Pigott relied on exaggerated expressivity and fast pace, Andrews’s much calmer performance allowed her lines to shine and truly speak for themselves. Jumping on topics as diverse as daikon radishes, Club Penguin turning her into a venture capitalist, and bizarre trigger warnings — including one about happy couples — her performance was a much-needed, lighthearted wrap-up of the first part of the show.

After a brief musical intermission from Martin-Smith and Karle, Jeremy Ornstein ’23-’24 took the stage in a brown blazer and a pink turtleneck.

Ornstein’s performance was delightfully absurd and enhanced by his deadpan delivery. It was hard not to laugh as he shared his life goals, which included being “tall, jacked,” and having three hats; told a story of an accidental second circumcision with a onesie; and mentioned his girlfriend inviting him to a life event — her wedding. At one point he himself couldn’t keep himself from laughing, and for good reason. It would be hard not to break character in such a consistently hilarious performance.

Wrapping it all up was Raina D. Hofstede ’24 with possibly the most distinct routine of the evening. Announced by Griffin each time as a different character, she’d walk onto the stage wearing different costumes and with different props. The colorful personages included, among many others, a vampire, an Eastern European cat owner, a Cambridge Public Library card holder, and Nick Cage. She’d deliver a line or two, and promptly leave. Rinse and repeat. This repetition, inherent to the routine, could have very easily turned annoying. But she skilfully avoided the pitfall, ending at the right time and leaving the audience with the right last impression.
After the five comedians, Griffin — the host himself — briefly took the stage with a short comedic bit of his own, ending on a reflection that comedy is hard.

Fortunately, even a stand-up hater would have to acknowledge that the mix of fresh jokes and the performers’ uniformly fantastic comedic timing made for an entertaining night that showcased some of the best comedy Harvard has to offer. The only thing “Speakeasy: The Faire” was missing was alcohol. But neither the performers nor the production team is to blame for that.

“Speakeasy: The Faire” ran at the Loeb Ex on April 19.

—Staff writer Zachary J. Lech can be reached at

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