“Your student body is so white.”
That was the first observation my mother made upon settling into her seat in Shriver Hall last Thursday night. As we watched students fill the auditorium (which she likened to that of an elementary school, citing the lineup of cheesy flags and the ‘80s mauve-upholstered seats), I felt the need to explain that Hopkins students weren’t usually like this, at least at school-sponsored events.
They were usually apathetic, hidden away crying and/or eating Adderall by the handful in a library cubicle. Though, yes, the student body is so white, as evidenced by the sea of 20-year-olds behind us whose pallid hands leave smears of SPF 60 on Frisbees in the summertime.
That night, their pallid hands carried plastic jugs of Dubra vodka and signs displaying catchphrases from The Eric André Show. Who knew these guys had such a variety of craft supplies lying around? One of several white dudes toting bottles of ranch raised his fist to the heavens to display his vegetable dip as if it was Excalibur, the famed sword of King Arthur. I halfheartedly explained their fixation with the fat-filled dressing to my mother, silently wondering if it was Phi Delt or AEPi that was able to snag the last bottle at Char Mar. She seemed unfazed by the scene, certainly less disturbed than I was. She did go to state school, after all.
My mom had touched down in Baltimore just a few hours before André took to the stage. I wasn’t too nervous about bringing her along. I had subjected her to hours of violent films and absurdist humor, including every season of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! I’m almost positive she secretly enjoyed the recurring Beaver Boys sketch. André’s stand up, I thought, would be child’s play. Little did I know that endless jokes about parental boning were looming over us.
The cacophony of awkward began with the Buttered Niblets, who opened the show with an improv set that quickly devolved into a ten minute long incest joke. It was hysterical, of course, but as the performers mimicked leg spreading and humping and indulging in the kinkiest of kinks, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was making my mother absurdly uncomfortable.
My concerns didn’t let up for the next hour, as André spouted joke after crude joke and took advantage of the audience members’ imbecilic need to display their commitment to him. Just several minutes into the set, he told two dudes to make out. They did, of course, as the crowd chanted “U-S-A,” for some reason that is beyond my understanding. My friend Kyra, a Buttered Niblet with extreme affection for André, later texted me “will NEVER forget ur mothers face when Eric told those two frat bros to kiss.”
Spectacles like this littered André’s set, and though I was worried my mom might be hating every minute of it, I was mostly embarrassed that this train wreck was her introduction to my peer group. Alas, I thought, it’s too late now.
He progressed through a series of jokes, some of them outdated by a decade (by his own admission), and I was so entertained (read — over-stimulated) that I almost forgot that a 50-something woman who birthed me and lived in the suburbs was sitting to my left. André joked about getting kids high, Phish’s incomprehensibility and religious teenagers’ bizarre/creative god-approved sex acts.
His shining moment was a dramatic reading of the botched English inscribed on a souvenir from his trip to Cuba. Normally, I would have found this bit (more) offensive, but André handled it perfectly, comparing the translation to Shakespearean English and socially conscious slam poetry. He recited the jumbled sentence as if it was, in fact, a slam poem, speaking with conviction and purpose. “If you enter to our kitchen and the SHE finds it DUR-teee, it is because the one THAT NOT scrubs this AND the one that this it is not the one that SCRUUUBS and as you he WON’T scrub, don’t criticise AS IZ.”
Maybe you had to be there. Regardless, directly after this bit I was reminded of my mother’s presence when a string of parent-related sex jokes bombarded the audience. André purported that all of our parents had anal intercourse before asking us to imagine our parents engaging in all sorts of sex acts — 69ing, blumpkins, feces-related kinks, the whole shebang.
If that wasn’t enough, André closed out his set by removing his shorts and boxers, stealthily tucking his junk in and humping a student who looked horrified, invigorated and hardly post-pubescent all at once. During this ordeal, my mother and I turned to each other, laughing a couple of times in an attempt to make things less awkward. This was normal, right?
She was laughing, yes, but was it forced? Was she wishing we were eating dinner at a quaint yuppie hotspot with lots of exposed brick and the word “mill” in its name? Was I a terrible daughter? These are the thoughts clouded my brain as we filed out of the auditorium.
As we walked back to my apartment, images of a pantsless André floating around our heads, she finally broke the silence, “My face hurts from laughing so much. That was awesome.”