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Jenny Slate, Max Silvestri serve up a night of pre-finals laughter

Jenny Slate arrives at the “Hotel Artemis” Los Angeles Premiere held at the Bruin Theater in Westwood, CA on May 19. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Finals might be rapidly approaching, but in the Archie Griffin Grand Ballroom on Monday, there were no signs of stress. Waves of laughter rippled throughout the space so often students barely had time to catch their breath in between jokes by famed comedians Jenny Slate and Max Silvestri.

The night opened with a stand-up comedy set from Max Silvestri, a consulting producer on Netflix’s hit show “Big Mouth,” who said it was his third time on Ohio State’s campus. Silvestri focused on everyday instances, such as exercise classes and losing teeth. The audience responded well to his jokes as laughter and clapping filled the ballroom following each anecdote. He provided a solid foundation for the night’s leading lady.

Up next was Jenny Slate, widely known for her role as the tacky, obnoxious, yet lovable, Mona Lisa in the hit TV show “Parks and Recreation,” which she later revealed during the Q&A sessions was written for her specifically by a friend. Slate also works alongside Silvestri as the voice of Missy on “Big Mouth.”

Kelly Rudolph, the director of comedy for the Ohio Union Activities Board, said they chose to bring Slate to campus for her multifaceted career as well as her style.

“Jenny Slate doesn’t like her performances to be taped,” Rudolph said. “She likes to be in the moment, to be present during her stand-up shows, so we loved the aspect that students couldn’t see this anywhere.”

The audience seemed to agree. Slate’s set involved a lot of physical comedy, including lying down on stage, shaking her hips from side to side upon realizing she was broadcast on a massive screen above the stage and adding in subtle winks after some of her raunchier jokes. Her wide range of vocal inflections also earned her a fair share of smiles.

Slate’s history as a voice actress truly shined in these moments as her iconic voice captured the attention of everyone in the room.

Julianne Stamer, a student pursuing her master’s degree in Latin American studies, said she enjoyed seeing Slate on the small stage after watching her on TV.

“It’s cool to see a comedian who’s done such a broad variety of stuff come and perform stand-up,” Stamer said. “It’s interesting to experience her outside of acting, because her personality can shine through.”

Slate let her true self come to life even more by taking the time to do a Q&A session at the end of her performance. She allowed students to ask her questions about her career, how her Jewish upbringing influences her comedy and even her overall thoughts on the changing political climate of America. Getting to know Jenny on a more personal level was a special surprise that the audience certainly appreciated, and she left the stage with a standing ovation.

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