The Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium (MSE) commenced its fall series, entitled “Learning From Experience: The Path Ahead for Generation Y,” with comedian Craig Robinson on Tuesday in Shriver Hall.
Hosted by both MSE and the Hopkins Organization for Programing (HOP), Robinson’s performance drew a standing room only crowd to the largest auditorium on campus.
Following stand-up performances by comedians Adam Ray and Ralph Roberts, Robinson exhibited both his comedic and musical talents through a synthesis of keyboard melodies and lyrical jokes. Robinson covered hits such as Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop the Music” and Hall & Oates “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling,” while getting the audience involved in a pseudo-sing-along with a comedic twist.
After his musical set, Robinson rounded out his performance with a freestyle rap about mangoes and a brief improvisation performance regarding an abortion clinic. As opposed to a more conventional stand-up routine or lecture, Robinson created an interactive and engaging environment through music, student cooperation and multiple comedic mediums.
Senior Francesca Pinelli, chair of the MSE Marketing Committee, thought the event was a success.
“We are really excited with how the first event turned out,” Pinelli said. “It was such a great way to kickoff our 2013 season.”
However, student responses towards the event have been mixed. Sophomore Allison Rubenstein left the symposium dissatisfied.
“I was pretty disappointed by Craig’s performance,” Rubenstein said. “I was impressed by his piano skills, but there was a little too much piano and not enough jokes. He seemed ill-prepared and lacked the stage presence of the two performers who opened for him.”
Sophomore Noah Landesberg, however, was more impressed.
“I enjoyed Craig’s performance. It was a great way to start this year’s symposium.” Landesberg said. “At a place like Hopkins where people take themselves and their work very seriously, it’s nice to inject some humor into the community. Craig and his opening acts were all very funny and entertaining.”
The decision to host Robinson as the MSE inaugural speaker reflects a larger tradition of beginning the series with a recognizable performer. Seth Meyers was the headliner last year.
“Traditionally, the MSE Symposium incorporates a stand-up comedian within the year’s program” senior Aidan Christofferson, co-chair of the MSE Programming Committee, wrote in an e-mail to The News-Letter. “Craig seemed like a perfect option after considering his role as Darryl Philbin in The Office, or his roles in Hot Tub Time Machine and Knocked Up.”
Pinelli said Robinson was not only an identifiable comedian but also someone who was able to demonstrate the sense of humor unique to Generation Y.
“Starting off with a more lighthearted event was the perfect way to get people out to see someone who is active in shaping the genre of comedy that defines our generation,” Pinelli said.
The MSE lineup exhibits a collection of speakers with varied professional backgrounds, each with the potential to deliver a distinctive look into the future of the Millennial generation.
“I think that this year’s Symposium will deliver a breadth of program unsurpassed in previous years,” Christofferson wrote. “From a decorated hero of the Iranian hostage crisis, to the modern bastion of Libertarian politics, each speaker will contribute unparalleled diversity and unique perspectives to this year’s conversation.”
The next MSE event featuring Jon Favreau, President Obama’s former speechwriter, will take place on Oct. 2. Other MSE speakers coming to Homewood this fall include Kal Penn, Tony & Jonna Mendez and Ron Paul.