Johnny Cardinale entertained students last Thursday night in
Johnny Cardinale stood in the center of a temporary stage in Sullivan Lounge last Thursday night and asked that fearful question of the audience – how many of you are graduating, and do you know what you want to do after you graduate? He looked right at me. I had never actually been put on the spot by a comedian before.
“Well, I’m a writer,” I told him. He asked what I write. “Anything really,” I responded. I saw a look in his eyes that could only mean one thing: I was about to be part of a joke.
“I’m sure that will look great on your resume´,” he said. “What do you write? Anything? Alright, here’s a menu; show me what you’ve got. ‘Extra cheese, fifty cents.’ Brilliant!”
No one was off-limits during Cardinale’s hour-long comedy set, from the students in the audience to the founding fathers to his oddly accurate impression of Channing Tatum. Not even the setting of Sullivan Lounge was safe from Cardinale’s sharp commentary.
“Is that a high-tide mark?” Cardinale asked as he pointed to the two-toned pillars in the room. “And they even found curtains to match!”
Cardinale found a seemingly endless string of jokes in the topic of Italians, from their gestures to the way they speak. Being Italian himself, he drew upon actual family members and experiences such as the unfamiliar feeling of not feeling obligated to clean his plate.
Like many comedians before him, Cardinale opened his act with jokes about North Adams. Later, he mentioned the hip-hop genre and asked the audience, “You guys have hip-hop out here, right? Has it made it this far west yet?”
Cardinale then recommended that people go back and revisit terms for “drunk” that haven’t seen the light of day in quite some time, citing The Drinker’s Dictionary for terms that should be brought back.
“The thing about drinking though,” he said, “is that if you say anything with enough enthusiasm you can use it to talk about being drunk. ‘Dude, I drank so much last night, I was reupholstered!’”
He joked for a while about men and women, and how he thinks women have it so much easier than men.
“You see a lady bug and think how cute it is,” he said, “if it was a man bug you would be terrified.”
For the last portion of the evening, Cardinale took out his guitar. While comedians like Dimitri Martin write funny songs to be played on the guitar or other instruments, Cardinale used his guitar to make fun of music.
He explained how all guitar players need to do to impress girls is to play on two certain strings and sing with an airy voice and use only vowels. To illustrate his point, he began singing a satire of Snow Patrol’s hit song “Chasing Cars.”
He made fun of Nickleback as well, singing one of their songs in a nasally whine and then explaining that he sang exactly that way at a karaoke bar and received nothing but compliments.
As his final bit, he revisited a joke about tattoos that he had made earlier. He asked audience members if they had tattoos, and what they were. I reluctantly raised my hand.
“Oh, the writer has a tattoo,” he joked. “Just what are you writing anyway?”
“I’m covering this for the school paper,” I said.
“Oh, that’s awesome. I thought you just weren’t paying attention and were writing poetry or something based on my act.”