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Michelle Buteau knocks it out of the park at Old Cabell

Buteau filled the room with laughter during her phenomenal comedy show

<p>Michelle Buteau after her comedy show at Old Cabell.</p>

Michelle Buteau after her comedy show at Old Cabell.

To celebrate the beginning of the new school year, the University Programs Council hosted its welcome week festivities. From Aug. 18 to Aug. 28, UPC held a variety of events to welcome students back for the school year, including a movie night, kite festival and a performance by rapper Jack Harlow.

Included in the welcome week activities was a comedy show performed by Michelle Buteau, a comedian and actress with appearances in numerous television shows and films including “Someone Great,” “Always Be My Maybe” and “The Circle.”

Buteau is coming off her new Netflix comedy special “Michelle Buteau: Welcome to Buteaupia,” and this was her first live in-person show since the beginning of the pandemic. In her previous stand-up sets, Buteau has typically focused on jokes regarding race, relationships and parenting. Buteau consistently does a great job of providing her perspective on these topics in comedic fashion, and her performance at Old Cabell was no exception.

When Buteau appeared onstage in her yellow floral jumpsuit and Reebok sneakers, it felt like the audience was preparing for a wild ride — which she certainly delivered. Buteau’s demeanor was just as bright and bubbly as her outfit, showing how she takes great care to incorporate her personality in every part of the show.

There were several aspects that made the show particularly outstanding, but the most notable was her natural connection to the audience. Typically comedians only interact with the audience when they are being heckled, but Buteau turned a standard stand-up show into a live Q&A. She even joked numerous times that this show was her “TED Talk.”  Buteau would also ask students questions about their own lives and swiftly crafted their responses into jokes. This format made the setting feel much more intimate than a typical-stand up show. Buteau was so warm and inviting that listening to her set felt like seeing a friend for the first time in a long time.

Quite a bit of comedy came from her interactions with the audience. At one point she asked if anyone in the audience was in a relationship. One international student told the story of their long-distance relationship with their significant other and the numerous ways they were trying to maintain the relationship. Buteau had a great rebuttal based on her own college relationships — men only put the effort in for so long, so the couple should split up because long-distance relationships never work.

One of the funniest audience interactions was when she asked the crowd, “What's the saddest thing that you guys realized about yourself [during the pandemic]?” One audience member provided an answer right out of left field when they said, “I threw up in my own bath water.” The whole crowd erupted in laughter, and Buteau used this answer to share with the audience her hilarious story about the first time she burped in her mask.

Some comics have their shtick and remain close to it when they perform, but Buteau attempts to create a unique show every time. When comparing her typical performances to her show at the University, it is clear that she shifted her usual content to fit the interests of a younger audience. Buteau informed the audience of her experiences as a college student, and she also recognized that so much has changed for our current generation. She was very inquisitive about how we treat sex, relationships and gender, which made her relationship with the audience feel sincere and reciprocal.

All jokes aside, Buteau’s performance provided a cathartic experience for the audience and used humor to try to make sense of the last 18 months. After being isolated for so long, Buteau’s show allowed students to return to Grounds with a smile and a laugh.