On the night before performing as A&O Productions’ Spring Speaker, Adam DeVine tweeted saying that he would do stand up at Northwestern at 7:00 p.m., then eat at Buffalo Joe's (upon recommendation of Evanston native Anders Holm) at 8:30. Instead, perhaps to avoid the inevitable swarm of fans, he did the reverse, grabbing some tasty wings before sending 750-plus Northwestern students into fits of laughter at Pick-Staiger concert hall.
The 30-year-old comedian, known for being one of the minds behind the hit TV show Workaholics, performed an hour-long stand-up comedy routine, the latest of the A&O speakers on a list that includes Aziz Ansari, James Franco and B.J. Novak. He plowed through a tight routine, quipping about topics such as “duck face” as well as mixing in Evanston-centric jokes about Cheesie’s.
He closed the show with a small Q&A session with the audience, similar to the format of Franco’s show in the winter. But it ended up being a comedy routine in itself, in which he sang a song with a male acapella singer, claimed he wanted to write a book called “Adam DeVine: The Phil Jackson Story,” and jokingly noted that “sex tapes don’t hurt” when giving advice for young actors trying to break into TV.
Devine began his career as a sketch comedian for Mail Order Comedy, alongside fellow Workaholics cast members Blake Anderson, Anders Holm and Kyle Newacheck. Together, they gathered Internet fame after releasing videos on YouTube, and one of them found its way to the G4 series Attack of the Show. Comedy Central noticed, and gave the foursome the opportunity to write and act in a brand new show. Thus, Workaholics was born, and from there, DeVine’s comedy career exploded.
“With the Internet now, you can just put your stuff online and people will – maybe? – watch it,” said DeVine in an interview with NBN. “But at least it’s out there, instead of in the 90s, where you would have to send videotapes. Yikes! I might have given up!”
A jack-of-all-trades in the comedy landscape, DeVine has done it all – improv, sketch comedy, standup and comedic acting. Since gaining fame, he has toured the country with his standup routine, and recently got his own television show on Comedy Central called Adam DeVine’s House Party. At one point in his career, he even auditioned for Saturday Night Live, and he would be the first to admit that it didn’t go well.
“I don’t do impressions very well,” he said. “I had some characters that I thought would do well on SNL, and the day before, they were like, ‘you have your three characters and three impressions, right?’ You had to do impressions. So I was literally like, ‘I’m John Lennon!’ in a bad British accent.”
Regardless of what he thought of his impression abilities, he still whipped out some solid impersonations in his set. At one point he mimicked Adam Sandler, and at another he let out an unnaturally realistic T-Rex impression. At another time, he mocked a woman he knew, which he claimed to be the “most realistic impression of the night, even though no one knew her.”
DeVine’s friend and fellow comedian Adam Ray performed before him, unleashing an equally entertaining set that had the audience roaring throughout. The two have known each other for years, and have been friends since DeVine moved to Los Angeles.
“When you first are starting out, you become friends with people who don’t suck pretty quickly,” said DeVine. “Especially in LA, where there are so many crazy people who want a chance to talk. You go to these open mics and there are crackheads, who are like, ‘you know what it’s like living under a bridge, right?’ And you’re like, no, I don’t! I can’t relate to that! So I got to become good buddies with Adam.”
Student comedians Alex Heller and Mike Schultz opened the set, and held their own with the heavyweights that followed. Heller recalled an extremely awkward family reunion, while Schultz poked fun at a Sheridan Road sign using one of the red flags as a prop. Overall, the two-hour show was very “tight butthole,” as the misfit characters in Workaholics would put it (the phrase is commonly used in the show to describe something favorable).
“Back a few years ago, everyone was saying, ‘that’s the tits,’” said DeVine. “We were like, that phrase sucks! I don’t want to say something is the tits. We wanted to know what’s better than tits, and [Anders Holm] was like, tight butthole! Well, maybe, but then it kinda stuck. It was something organic that we said with our friends.”