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Parents will laugh at anything

By Sam Hilburn

A few days ago, we all survived Family Weekend, where everyone’s parents (except mine) come to see how far their kids have let themselves go in only a few short months without adult supervision.

Seeing your kids grow up can be hard (or so I’ve been told). A great way to relieve newly created generational tension is through laughter, arguably the lowest common denominator of humanity.

Willamette Events Board astutely picked up on this phenomenon and commissioned “comedienne on the rise” Tracey Ashley to perform in Smith Auditorium on Saturday night as part of the conglomeration of force-fed fun that constitutes the events of Family Weekend.

Before her performance, the tension between parents and offspring seemed palpable. Ashley’s set succeeded in lessening the hostility in the air and received plenty of laughter and applause throughout.

Moms cackled like hens and dads bellowed like Jabba the Hutt at her jokes about married life, while being reminded that they too, at some point in their lives, were married.

I didn’t laugh much that night—maybe because I’ve never been married, or maybe because I spoiled the entire set for myself the night before by watching her previous sets (which were identical to this one) online.

I sat alone in my silence, however, as the adults around me laughed away the memories of their children mentioning their new fake IDs at last night’s Goudy dinner.

I realize that it’s easier to laugh when you’re trying to forget about your son or daughter’s decision to change majors from economics to art because they’d rather “do something real.” But it’s harder to laugh when you can’t stop wondering if your night would’ve been better spent drinking alone and watching Jerry Seinfeld’s stand-up compilations on YouTube.

As much as I love being a stick in the mud, I am self-aware enough to admit that I might be complaining for the sake of complaining—most people in the crowd had a good time that night. And to be fair to the talent, she wasn’t entirely unfunny, I just hadn’t eaten in a while.

Also to her credit, Ashley’s had a successful run on the NBC TV show “Last Comic Standing” and has the endorsement of fellow comedian Wanda Sykes—who has my endorsement because of her appearance on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

So, at the very least, if Tracey Ashley becomes incredibly famous, I can say “I was there when she wasn’t.”

shilburn@willamette.edu

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