As the College played host to the National Association for College Activity’s (NACA) five-time Comedian of the Year, the Association for the Promotion of College Activities’ 2000 Comedian and Entertainer of the Year and Campus Activities Magazine’s 2001 winner for Comedian of the Year on Thursday, a packed Goodrich Hall was in an uproar. Buzz Sutherland was performing the “Duckjob.” For the uninitiated, the “Duckjob” is an impression of the vocally distinctive cartoon character Donald Duck receiving something, well, very un-Disney.
As one of All Campus Entertainment’s (ACE) inaugural events, the evening with Sutherland represented ACE at its most efficient. “Three key points we used to convince people to support the development of ACE were ACE would save money, allow for advance planning and allow us to bring in better acts, and Buzz Sutherland is a perfect example of all three.” Drew Newman, former ACE president, said.
According to Newman, ACE representatives previewed Sutherland’s routine at the NACA’s national convention last spring and booked him at a 40% discount due to a consortium effort with several other New England colleges, including Eastern Connecticut State University, Framingham State College, Endicott College and Roger Williams University. The convention preview allowed ACE to circumvent the high level of risk that has generally plagued the scheduling of uncertain acts, and the co-operative effort saved the committee $1,000.
Knowing what to expect, ACE General Entertainment flew in Sutherland. Even with humor seemingly targeted at the sixth-grade-boy demographic, Sutherland had a room of one hundred Williams College students in hysterics. Incorporating the three I’s â€“ immaturity, impersonations and audience interaction â€“ Buzz had, almost undeservingly, succeeded in captivating his audience. While I hate to admit it, I, too, emerged from the show thoroughly and mindlessly entertained.
Despite a shaky beginning of awkward silences, Buzz quickly recaptured his audience with the surefire college motif: drunkenness. To be sure, two definite crowd-pleasers included the breathless talking of drunks and the recurrent sound effect of the night â€“ the police siren. The comedian quickly piggy-backed off that concept onto the Fox phenomenon “Cops,” a television sitcom apparently second only to “The Crocodile Hunter.” A couple of Australian impersonations about alligator testicles and an admittedly humorous observation of cameramen closer to catching the criminals than the police and we were off.
After covering a fair share of low-brow pop culture, Buzz proceeded to the ever-present rift between the sexes and â€“ what a shocker â€“ the girls were portrayed as overbearing and emotional and the guys unresponsive and confused. However, after a few funny instances involving a mother and wife combination vs. a Buzz and father-in-law Scrabble game and an observation that “men see ‘I love you’ as duct tape: it’ll fix any problem,” we were all hooked. The next half-hour covered a vast variety of topics, from Pixy Stix to learning German to the Waffle Houses of the South and smoking marijuana while babysitting at his sister’s house.
Some of the best moments in the show weren’t part of his routine, occurring when jokes died down or when Sutherland would lose his train of thought. At that point, he’d simply initiate his own conversation with audience members or pose wildly for the Record’s on-duty photographer, who in turn posed for Buzz and his digital camera. Whether encouraging the crowded back to move up into front, “Okay, don’t listen to me, that’s cool,” swapping ambulance stories or reflecting on Goodrich Hall itself â€“ “That’s bitchin’, a disco ball in a church” â€“ he never abandoned his role as an entertainer.
His marriage and two children notwithstanding, Sutherland proved to be just one of the guys. Calling a few students up on stage with him, Sutherland would get down and dirty in a complex four-step dance that involved first looking confused, second riding a horse, followed by waving his arms as if they managed to defy gravity and finally flailing with an imaginary horsewhip.
For his final and greatest act, Sutherland gave the crowd his take on a laser show. He picked up a rather eccentric audience member whom he had spontaneously dubbed “Puddin” and, armed with a pair of skinny flashlight pens each, the two flashed red and blue lights in the dark to banjo music. From inside their noses, that is. Of course, students, myself included, were whistling, stomping and cheering uproariously.