By Garrett Palmquist
Low-brow humor met questionable stereotyping when comedian Pete Lee, host of a half-hour special on Comedy Central, entertained a packed audience of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) students on Sept. 15, 2017. After a member of the campus’s Board of Campus Activities pumped the crowd up by speaking of the comedian’s achievements, Lee immediately set the initial tone of his act by nonchalantly taking the stage.
“It’s such an honor to perform at a school that I couldn’t have gotten into!” noted Lee once the applause quieted down. He began by acknowledging that this event was his third trip to an ERAU campus, though it was not clear if he counted both the Daytona Beach and the Prescott campuses in this total.
Lee’s initial one-off jokes centered around the university and his apparent misunderstanding of the subjects that ERAU focuses on, joking that students “build the airplanes so the drone pilots can fly them.” While Lee’s comments on campus culture were likely due to a lack of personal knowledge, the crowd still murmured after each joke with whispers of “That isn’t how that works.”
The initial few minutes of Lee’s act were filled with an almost unending stream of laughter and applause from the audience. With a focus on personal detractions mixed with stories of his college days, Lee was both entertaining and relatable to the crowd of young adults. Initially, much of his humor was based off his Wisconsin upbringing—from mocking accents to connecting with his fellow Wisconsinites, Lee started the night off strong.
As the act continued, however, the jokes became more focused on sex and gender stereotyping until it came to a point when attendees began leaving in small groups. One student, who would like to remain anonymous, said that, “It’s a performer’s job to read the room. And clearly, this man read a bunch of sexist…boys and ran with it.”
For every racy joke (claiming to be a feminist because he doesn’t put his credit card into the chip reader until the reader tells him too), Lee attempted to balance it out with a positive joke (“Guys, if you want to know what women want, just think of what a person would want.”) However, this was not enough for many students; one individual noted that, “You could see the discomfort in the crowd. I was hoping that it would get better, but that didn’t happen.”
In the waning minutes of the event, Lee prompted the audience for questions about him and his life. One student asked Lee “Aero or astro?” in reference to the two predominant tracks of aerospace engineering at ERAU. Opting not to answer, Lee retorted, “Is this the Ford versus Chevy of the nerd world?” which was met with raucous mirth. Another student wanted to know Lee’s best advice he could give to the crowd; in summation, Lee implored students to not live life out of fear, but rather to live life doing whatever they love to do.
While certainly not every attendee’s brand of humor, Pee Lee’s act still managed to attract a throng that left the venue packed and keep the room loud with laughter and cheers. Students who wish to follow the comedian’s career may find him on social media or by going to [www.petelee.net] for more information.